SSC-Natick Press Release
U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center-Natick
Public Affairs Office
Natick, MA 01760-5012
Contact: Chief, Public Affairs Office
Date: August 24, 2006
Natick Soldier Center lets light shine
NATICK, Mass. -- The Natick Soldier Center (NSC) is developing electroluminescent (EL) panels for shelters.
NSC is working with the private company Crosslink to develop electroluminescent (EL) textile technology. The EL technology will be incorporated into panels, which can then be attached to the walls of softwall shelters to function as a white light source.
Alternatively, the EL technology can be directly integrated into the shelter materials thus eliminating attachment assembly.
NSC is collaborating with Crosslink, a St. Louis-based company that develops and manufactures electroactive polymer coatings for integration with a variety of plastics, metals, and textiles, under a Broad Agency Agreement intended to encourage innovative approaches to technology research.
The EL technology is an improvement over the typical lighting source used in Army shelters.
According to NSC project officer Benjamin LaPointe, "Soldiers currently use hardened fluorescent lights. These fluorescent lights are in a special container to protect the fragile glass tubes. They are heavy, contain toxic materials, have trouble starting in the cold, and have to be set up after the shelter is erected."
"In contrast, the new EL panels are flexible, durable, and lightweight. The panels can be attached to tent walls, and the lighting can be collapsed with the shelter so that troops don't have to come back and get them later. The system thus enhances logistics and reduces deployment time," said LaPointe.
The lighting system can be pre-attached to or directly integrated into the softwall shelter so that Warfighters will not have to set up lights in addition to setting up the shelter.
LaPointe explained, "The idea is that the lights will be semi-permanently attached to the inside of the shelter."
The light panels use an efficient power controller developed by Crosslink, which can be plugged into any normal power outlet.
The panels can withstand being punctured, torn, twisted or crunched and still light up.
According to LaPointe, this system would be particularly useful in combat environments such as Iraq and Afghanistan, where quick deployment time and the ability to pack up and relocate swiftly are important.