Kirtland Air Force Base (KAFB) is taking another step on its energy resilience journey with the announcement of a new direct current (DC) microgrid project.
The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) recently awarded a $4.8 million contract to Concurrent Technologies Corporation (CTC) to develop and implement DC microgrid technologies on the base.
Pennsylvania-based CTC is a nonprofit, applied scientific research and development professional services organization that has previously worked with the AFRL to “improve the Air Force’s energy posture,” according to Edward Sheehan, CTC president and CEO.
Creating a road map for other military bases
“DC microgrids are an exciting next step in resiliency solutions,” said Kevin Merichko, senior principal chemical engineer/project manager at CTC.
In traditional alternating current (AC) microgrids, the direct current provided by solar, storage or other generation resources must be converted to AC.
What the AFRL and CTC aim to show with this demonstration project is that a DC microgrid can enhance energy resilience and improve system efficiencies by reducing the reliance on DC to AC inverters.
According to CTC, inverters are a common point of failure in traditional AC microgrids.
“This project will field a first-of-its-kind system within the Department of the Air Force, providing immediate benefits to the host site,” Merichko said.
He added that CTC will also be documenting opportunities to expand the technology to other military installations.
A hotbed of DC microgrid activity
Kirtland Air Force Base, located near Albuquerque, New Mexico, employs more than 23,000 active duty, guard and reserve troops, as well as contractors and civil service employees. It is home to the 377th Air Base Wing, the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center and the 150th Special Operations Wing.
Kirtland also houses the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Directed Energy and Space Vehicles Directorates.
This is not the first DC microgrid project on the base. As previously reported, Sandia National Laboratories and Emera Technologies partnered on a DC/AC hybrid microgrid demonstration project at KAFB.
That project was designed to show how DC microgrids can be integrated into the existing AC electrical system to provide resilient power to homes and military installations.
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