Tyndall Air Force Base - The Department of Defense is funding a project to reduce energy use at bases that are temporarily set up overseas in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. Much of the research is being done right here in Bay County.
The Air Force Civil Engineer Center at Tyndall Air Force Base is the mastermind behind some of the most exciting new technology to make tents at these bases more energy efficient. The tents currently in use are very similar to something you might use to go camping. They have no insulation, in temperatures that can easily top 120 degrees.
Solar power generating shade flies, high efficiency AC units, and insulated liners are just some of the energy saving technologies being developed at the Air Force Research Lab. "The liner is allowing them to keep the tents much more comfortable," said Rodney Fisher. Technologies developed by the Air Force Civil Engineer Center over the past three years now have the power to make the tents at least 50% more energy efficient. "By insulating the tents and shading them, we can go from cooling one tent with an environmental control unit to cooling two tents with one," said Fisher.
Some flies and liners are already in use in the field, and getting rave reviews. "The troops love them. They were able to significantly reduce the number of environmental control units and heaters and actually keep the tents warm and comfortable during the winter," said Fisher. The tents currently set up at Tyndall will be shipped to Kuwait where their energy efficiency will be demonstrated in the field.
Less energy use also translates to lives saved because fuel convoys are so dangerous for our troops. "The studies indicate that we are losing a troop on the convoy due to an IED or attacks about one every 19 or 20 to 29 convoys, depending on the study, so there is a significant loss of life, it is one of the major causes of loss of life over the last 10 years," said Fisher. All the more reason to keep searching for ways to save energy.
Fisher says their ultimate goal is something they call "Net Zero," when the tents become completely self-sufficient. But he says these things take time, and that likely won't be in his lifetime.