Southborough, Mass.—Vancouver-based Ballard Power Systems Inc. has taken a contract with the U.S. Army into a potentially lucrative new phase.
Ballard and its U.S. subsidiary Protonex Technology Corporation announced Sept. 25 that the U.S. Army’s procurement office, Program Executive Office Soldier (PEO-Soldier), has received approval to bring a program covering several of Protenex’s wearable power management systems into full rate production status.
The contract between Protenex and the U.S. Army covers the distribution of wearable batteries and wearable power and data distribution devices to soldiers in the field, specifically Protonex’s Squad Power Manager Kit (SPM-622).
Ballard says the SPM-622 is a tough, versatile and agile power management device, weighing less than a pound and enabling military forces to manage and prioritize power use for various electronics devices—including portable radios, GPS systems, medical and explosive ordnance disposal equipment, and computers—from any available power source.
The company says the SPM-622 can also scavenge power from vehicles, batteries, solar panels and other energy sources, allowing military units to recharge mission essential batteries when resupply is unavailable or delayed.
The U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. allied militaries have deployed more than 5,500 SPM Kits through the limited production phase of the program.
Paul Osenar, president of Protonex, says the U.S. Army can now field the SPM-622 in significant volume.
“With the digitization of the battlefield, the U.S. military identified a capability gap in energy and power management for its increasing array of electronic devices,” said Osenar. “Our Squad Power Manager is one of the solutions that fill this gap. Lightening the load of troops by eliminating many of the batteries, adapters and chargers they carry was a requirement that we identified years ago.”
Ballard asserts the SPM system fulfills the needs of combat troops operating in environments without reliable power sources: reducing logistical strain in remote locations, increasing energy independence, improving mission effectiveness and decreasing the amount of equipment these soldiers need to carry.
The SPM-622 is manufactured at production facilities in Southborough, Mass.