Conformal battery for military applications

Jon Lawson

Ultralife has launched the UBBL35 rechargeable conformal battery. It is specifically designed for harsh military environments, where reliability and ruggedness are key. 

The battery acts as a central power supply that distributes power to multiple devices that the soldier carries. The conformal battery is worn on the stomach of the soldier, using a space that was previously not used. In the past, a soldier would carry a battery on their hip, however this space can now be used for other vital equipment, such as grenades.
As the battery fits the shape of the soldier, it is much easier for the soldier to move around on the battlefield, particularly when crawling or crouching, than using a cumbersome, misshaped battery. It is also lightweight, weighing approximately 2.1lbs, so will not weigh the soldier down.
In addition to its ergonomic properties, the UBBL035 also features battery technology that is of particular use for the defence sector. The lithium-ion battery has no memory effect, meaning it can be charged after short missions without any damage to the battery. It also has a high energy density, which is operational between -20º Celsius and 45º Celsius, allowing for severe conditions.
To ensure that soldiers can easily see the battery’s state of charge, the UBBL35 also has a push button activated five LED display. The soldier can then be sure of the battery’s capacity and can rely on it to power important communication devices, charging it only when required.
“In military applications, failure is not an option, so the battery must be rugged. In tests, we have dropped the battery from 26 feet, crushed it with 12,000 lbs of weight and immersed it in a tank of water, yet it still had power capacity afterwards. To prove the robustness of the internal protection circuitry, Ultralife has also performed a ballistics test of five bullets in eight minutes, which did not cause the battery to explode, meaning it is suitable for use in live operations,” explained Jonathan DiGiacomandrea, applications engineering manager at Ultralife.
The UBBL35 is also compatible with a number of existing devices, including the US Land Warrior programme. This means that there is no need to purchase new connectors, reducing costs.