ERDC-CERL managing project, awarding a $17.5 million battery contract to Lockheed Martin

U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development
Published June 14, 2022
Headshot for Tom Decker

Headshot for Tom Decker

The U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) Operational Energy (OE) team at the Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (CERL) was selected to provide management for a flow battery at Fort Carson, Colorado. The team was selected based on its previous work with a research and development a flow battery prototype. ERDC-CERL is also awarding a $17.5 million contract to Lockheed Martin to prepare the Fort Carson site, as well as to construct and demonstrate the flow battery. The $17.5 million agreement between ERDC and Lockheed Martin represents the largest dollar amount awarded as a result of submissions through the ERDCWERX platform to date.

According to Tom Decker, the Operational Energy program manager, the OE team will provide overall project management and serve as the technical lead team for testing and evaluation of the flow battery once installed. The OE team will develop a final report on the performance of the flow battery.

“Tom has done great work on this project,” said CERL director, Dr. Andy Nelson. “Tom and his team are consistently deliver innovative solutions to ensure resilient energy systems for the Warfighter. This partnership with Lockheed Martin is just one example of that, and Tom is leading it.”

A flow battery, as defined by the International Flow Battery Forum (IFBF) is, “a rechargeable battery in which electrolyte flows through one or more electrochemical cells from one or more tanks.” For the purposes of this project, when there is excess renewable energy or less demand for energy, the flow battery will be charged and store the charged electrolyte. When the flow battery system is completely charged, and when the stored energy is required, this electrolyte will pass back through the flow battery providing up to one megawatt for up to ten hours.

“ERDC-CERL will work with Lockheed Martin and the Fort Carson Director of Public Works to look at different cases of how to utilize this storage capability. Bottom line is, the Lockheed Martin flow battery will provide a feasible means of long-duration grid scale energy storage to Fort Carson and their mission critical assets that no other Army installation currently possesses,” Decker said.

This will be the first long-duration energy storage system installed for the DOD. A long-duration storage is defined as discharge of more than six hours. Recently, the DOD instructed military bases to develop a strategy to be self-sufficient for at least 14 days without outside power, water and other utilities. This mission requires energy storage assets which have the capability to bridge many hours of operation,

stand fully charged and cycle deeply daily. Meaning, that long-duration storage systems are essential to installation self-sufficiency, and thus completion of this mission. This storage capacity could be used to provide power to an installation if it became disconnected from the local grid, or during periods where renewable sources of energy cannot provide sufficient power.

“ERDCWERX is pleased to support ERDC’s Construction Engineering Research Laboratory to provide a simplified, responsive process that leads to greater public-private collaboration,” said ERDCWERX Director Paul Sumrall. “As a result of our partnership with ERDC, an increasing number of agreements are being awarded to industry and academia.”