Advanced Batteries for Military Applications

The U.S. military is the largest consumer of natural resources in the world, a fact that provides significant impetus for research and development (R&D) activities toward discovering better means of storing energy.

The potential exists to dramatically reduce the fuel consumption of military operations, and advanced batteries represent a crucial innovation to these ends.

However, the primary driver for innovation in this area by the military is the changing nature of military operations and the use of advanced communications technologies, unmanned vehicles, and advanced weaponry – nearly all of which necessitate advanced energy storage systems.

Recognizing these needs, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), along with each branch of the military, is pursuing research for advanced battery innovation to serve a wide variety of end-uses.

Advanced battery innovation is the subject of R&D efforts funded by the White House, special projects at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and research labs under the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force. In the next 5 to 10 years, the military seeks to develop high-voltage battery cells through materials science research and to ultimately develop solid-state battery systems that will be lightweight and energy dense.

This research brief details the U.S. military’s efforts to advance battery technology, examining the history of military battery use, the relation of advanced batteries and military energy security, and specific military applications, including unmanned aircraft systems. Key players focusing on advanced battery technology for military applications are listed along with competing technologies being reviewed for power and propulsion systems. Conclusions and recommendations for battery developers and suppliers are also provided.

Key Questions Addressed:
  • How does the U.S. military use batteries?
  • What are the key military applications for advanced batteries?
  • In what ways does the military contribute to advanced battery innovation?
  • What are the leading technologies driving interest in advanced batteries for the military?
  • How much R&D funding has the military contributed to advanced batteries?
  • Who are some of the key players influencing U.S. military battery innovation?
  • What are the key conclusions and recommendations for battery developers and suppliers?