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At the annual Huntsville Energy Summit held Nov. 15-16 at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, current and former elected officials, business and government leaders converged to foster business and mission success in energy technologies.

Under the theme of “Energy is big business. It is also small business and a government mission,” the keynote speaker, Army Materiel Command Chief Technology Officer Patrick O’Neill, emphasized that operational energy is a driving force for the Army with numerous partnership opportunities within the Army’s science and technology enterprise.

“We have a number of ways you can partner with the Army to help develop the next generation of technological solutions that could become the next major acquisition programs,” O’Neill said.

Focusing on the importance of operational energy to the Army, he highlighted the work currently being carried out by Army Research Laboratory, and the Army’s Research, Development and Engineering Centers dedicated to Communications-Electronics, Soldier Systems, and Tank-Automotive systems. These laboratories and research and development centers, part of AMC’s major subordinate command, the Research, Development and Engineering Command, conducts extensive research on energy and power-related technologies.

According to the Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2009, operational energy is defined as “the energy required for training, moving, and sustaining military forces and weapons platforms for military operations.”

From a science and technology perspective, O’Neill highlighted three benefits realized by the Army when it improves its use of operational energy: it lightens Soldiers’ loads, increases their range, and reduces physical demand, thus increasing Soldier endurance.

From Soldier-worn energy harvesting devices to battery research that will improve the weight and longevity of future batteries, O’Neill identified methods for collaboration with the Army in technology development from basic research to product sustainment.

For example, through the Army Research Laboratory’s Open Campus Initiative, interested organizations can work with the Army’s premier corporate research laboratory at its facilities across the country to conduct groundbreaking scientific studies in areas impacting battery technology, energy harvesting and storage, among others.

“While we continually seek out technological innovation, we need to ensure these efforts are linked to more effective use of energy, water and land to maximize (Soldier) capabilities,” O’Neill said.

Throughout the Energy Summit, leaders from small and large businesses, the Corps of Engineers, NASA and the Air Force provided insight to participants on the future of energy technology, entrepreneurship and partnerships.

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