Delivering High-Voltage Power to Ground Vehicle Systems

Delivering High-Voltage Power to Ground Vehicle Systems

Published in Military Embedded Systems
Written by Christian Kopp

The ability to provide high-voltage power on ground vehicle platforms is a rapidly growing requirement as high peak power is often needed to accelerate a high-inertia load – such as a turret or a weapons system – to a precise position in the shortest possible time. Previously, the delivery of short bursts of peak power came with an associated risk of damage to the vehicle’s electrical systems. One alternative approach, which employs a higher current system, requires large banks of heavy batteries and large cable cross-sections and also wastefully produces large amounts of undesired heat.

As the roles and missions of ground vehicles become more complex, the demands placed on their electrical power-­generation and distribution systems have increased dramatically. Even light, high-mobility vehicles are being mounted with sensor, weapons, and communications systems requiring much greater generating capacity than the vehicles were originally designed to provide. Legacy vehicle electrical systems were based on 28 VDC, but this rating does not scale well in size or weight when required to deliver the tens of kilowatts needed to meet future expectations.

In addition to the weapons, sensors, and mission electronics that are becoming part of the regular vehicle kit, dismounted soldiers are heavy consumers of electrical power. This is particularly true when they are away from base overnight and need lights and heat plus recharging of the many portable electronic devices they are obliged to carry. The traditional solution is to truck in mobile generators and fuel, but significant savings in logistics and cost could be leveraged using in-vehicle generating capacity.

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