HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Due to the ever-changing demands of the information age, access to secure and reliable energy has become one of the most critical factors in ensuring our nation’s ability to protect and provide for its citizens. In response to our expanded energy needs--from powering the advanced weapons systems used to defend our nation to powering the neonatal units used to care for premature infants--the Army’s energy program has rapidly evolved into a complex system of systems designed to ensure not only the simple ability to buy and sell energy resources but also to provide secure and reliable energy to meet our needs across the globe.
At the forefront of this mission is the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville’s Resource Efficiency Manager (REM) program, which brings the best minds in the free world together to introduce new technologies and processes that extract every possible unit of energy from the most fuel-efficient and resilient energy-system technologies available. REMs, often called the “energy boots on the ground,” provide vital expertise to develop site energy plans encompassing projects that achieve sustainable, renewable, and secure energy management.
Ensuring energy access at Department of Defense installations worldwide is a complex task, requiring REMs to conduct ongoing analysis of data from multiple sources to detect potential energy issues and outages before they happen. To improve this process, REMs are currently working with U.S. Army Materiel Command to embed advanced artificial intelligence and machine-learning technologies for tracking and reporting energy usage, project initiation, security, and emergency-management response information into a single, easy-to-use interface that is both adaptive and secure. The interface can process mountains of data, identify trends, and alert decision makers of possible threats in a matter of seconds. In our energy-dependent world, this is truly a life-saving tool.
In addition to improving our means of analyzing existing energy systems, REMs are exploring new, emerging technologies to generate resilient, sustainable energy for Army missions around the world. They are currently providing their technical insight in support of the DOD’s Pele Program, which involves the development of a safe and mobile nuclear microreactor to generate power for remote operating bases. These microreactors could help keep Army weapons systems armed and ready, while also providing our Warfighters with the energy they need to maintain sustainable and acceptable living conditions in the most demanding environments.
The latest renewable technologies such as wind, hydro, and solar offer another promising solution to meeting our extensive energy needs, and this is another area in which REMs have proven to be an asset. REMs, such as those assigned to the U.S. Army Materiel Command, have extensive hands-on experience with these technologies and have worked in these industries to design, build, install and maintain utility-scale wind turbines around the globe. REMs are also exploring gasification and plasma-ionization technologies that will one day provide Army installations with clean and resilient energy generation while eliminating scrap hazard materials in environmentally friendly ways.
As investigators from organizations such as Army Futures Command look into an ever-widening range of developing energy-resilient technologies for Army installations of the future, they turn to REMs for assistance, due to their proven experience in data compilation, energy-resiliency assessment, and life-cycle cost analysis of some of the most advanced energy concepts being explored by the commercial, academic and government sectors. REMs provide installation and command energy managers and energy program senior leaders the knowledge base to make informed strategic decisions on Army energy resilience and productivity initiatives.
Dr. Robert Straitt has 30+ years of experience in the field of energy reliabilty and security and currently serves as a Resource Efficiency Manager with Sain Engineering Associates at HQ AMC. His most recent projects include gasification and plasma-ionization technologies power generation, Army metering and control systems modernization, Army mobile nuclear power systems, cyber and CEMA security planning and implementation, and developing energy, water, and control system strategy for Army installations in multi-domain operations.