Magazine article National Defense

Lockheed Martin Plugs into Energy Security Market

Magazine article National Defense

Lockheed Martin Plugs into Energy Security Market

Article excerpt

Lockheed Martin announced in March 2016 that it was consolidating its energy portfolio. A year later, that decision is paying dividends for the defense industry giant.

In its first full year of operation, the division doubled the amount of new orders of energy-related technologies, and has acquired new projects and programs, said Frank Armijo, vice president of Lockheed Martin Energy.

The company has been focused on developing energy-related technologies, including smartgrid and storage products, for the Defense Department and other government customers for decades, but chose to bundle its products and capabilities into a single line of business "to really see if we could garner some synergy and ... make a difference in the industry," he said.

Energy security is coming to the forefront, a senior Defense Department official said.

Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, vice chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said at a recent event that energy security is an issue that "we ought to talk about as a nation."

The grids and systems that power military networks in theater also supply energy for traffic lights, electricity and water, he noted. "Nationally, we should be paying attention to it because it's a national vulnerability.

"We're not going to rid ourselves of the necessity to have fuel for our vehicles. ...We're going to be in that business for a while," he said. "Securing the capacity to buy and move fuel around the world, to power our forces, is something we pay a lot of attention to.

He noted how expensive it is for the military to power and protect all of the grids needed to allow troops to operate around the world. "Would that we had a battery pack that could power the military," he said.

One of Lockheed Martin's most significant investments is in the energy storage field, Armijo said. The company is offering its own lithium-ion battery products and has won several contracts for them outside the military market in the United States and Canada.

The "biggest strategic play" for Lockheed is in coordinated chemistry flow battery technology, which can significantly increase the life of the battery and can be scaled for industrial storage, he noted. The company is developing a product that it hopes to offer commercially in 2018, he said.

Most lithium-ion storage products can only last for about four hours, while Lockheed's flow battery technology is intended to last six to eight hours, he said.

Traditional electrical grids provide power on the spot. If there is too much, the electricity is grounded and goes to waste. The advent of renewable energy, such as solar and wind, demands that the power deriving from these inconsistent sources be stored for later use. That requires large rechargeable batteries and smartgrid technology to manage the ebbs and flows.

"The reason that's so critical is when you think about variable, renewable technology, the challenge is everybody is using it in the middle of a hot summer day, but you still need it quite often in the evening," Armijo added.

Lockheed's flow battery technology is "at a price point that can save everybody [money] on their utility bills," he said.

The company is also expanding its bioenergy offerings. Last October it opened a new facility in Owego, New York, in partnership with Concord Blue - a Los Angeles-based energy company - that converts waste into synthesis gas, a fuel gas mixture that can then be used to produce electricity, hydrogen and biofuels, according to Lockheed.

The team will then use lessons learned from the Owego development to build new facilities in Herten, Germany and in Cardiff, Wales, Lockheed said.

Other endeavors include grid management, Armijo said, though he declined to comment further on specific projects or customers.

In terms of defense projects, the company currently holds an indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract with the Department of Energy for energy management, Armijo said. …

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