Laser-powered solar cells are one potential power source says Institution of Mechanical Engineers member staff sergeant Graham Thornton.

Writing in the latest Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) Journal, Sgt Thornton says cutting down on fossil fuels would not only reduce the army’s carbon ‘bootprint’ but also create a more mobile and effective fighting force.

The solider puts forward ideas of a laser charge system for unmanned aerial vehicles, more commonly called drones.

Drones are most vulnerable when landing to refuel and taking off, but firing a focused laser at a solar cell array attached to the aircraft could power it mid-flight renewably.

According to Sgt Thornton hybrid vehicles, while hybrid cars are becoming more common on Britain’s roads, the technology has yet to hit the battlefield.

But with companies such as US car maker Millenworks and British defence firm QinetiQ developing hybrid vehicles for use on the battlefield, the hybrid tank is not far away.

Sgt Thornton said: “Warfare has changed drastically since NATO introduced the single fuel policy in 1988, which made diesel power the norm.

“Now highly mobile land battles mean large amounts of fuel need to be on hand at all times, creating a logistical nightmare and often stretching supply chains to breaking point.

“The defence industry has always been on the cutting edge of engineering but, despite the clear need for greener, more effective fuel sources, it is now lagging behind its civilian counterparts when it comes to low carbon technology.”

Luke Walsh

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