Soldier-Portable Battery Supply: Foreign Dependence and Policy Options
RAND NATIONAL DEFENSE RESEARCH INST SANTA MONICA CA
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While batteries are crucial for military operations, their development and manufacture is primarily driven by the much greater civilian demand, especially for hand-held and portable electronic applications such as mobile phones, laptop computers, and, most recently, tablet computers. Just as Asia is the source of manufacture of most consumer hand-held and portable electronic applications, it is also the center of manufacture for the associated batteries and battery components. This applies to both consumer and military applications. During this study, it quickly became clear from discussions with government managers and researchers and representatives of the battery industry that most of the rechargeable batteries procured by the Department of Defense DoD are assembled from critical components manufactured outside the United States, principally in Asia. Both DoD and the Department of Energy DOE have active programs aimed at developing a production base within the United States for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries--the former for space-qualified applications and improved soldier-portable batteries SPBs and the latter for electric and hybrid vehicles. However, because of the much greater demand for batteries for consumer devices billions per year as compared to millions for military applications, a domestic manufacturer of SPBs will not benefit from the economies of scale enjoyed by the Asian battery manufacturers. This will result in DoD paying a premium, unless that manufacturer can also serve the consumer market.
- Electrochemical Energy Storage
- Logistics, Military Facilities and Supplies