ZeroAlpha Solutions logo

Deploy lighter, last longer

Soldier Modernisation talks to Jake Rawson, Head of Business Development at ZeroAlpha Solutions, which provides expeditionary energy and information systems to the UK and European defence and security markets, about the company's latest developments in power management and generation systems for On the Man (OTM) applications

PDF icon Download article as PDF

In any military setting, energy is king. From powering bases and fuelling vehicles to providing energy for devices and technology for dismounted soldiers in the field. As experts in mission-critical solutions since the company's establishment seven years ago, ZeroAlpha Solutions addresses a range of needs for military operations, from reliable off-grid power to small form factor network communications modules. The philosophy is simple, explains Jake Rawson - to enable commanders and units to increase their mission endurance and operational effectiveness in austere and zero infrastructure environments, in turn enhancing command and control and tactical effectiveness in the harshest of environments.

That philosophy is at the heart of some of ZeroAlpha's latest developments, explains Rawson, including its Vulture Scavenger solution that ensures users can achieve reliable power in the field. “The question of how to harness renewables in tactical environments isn't new,” explains Rawson. “It often arises with big HQ scenarios, but as you look at lines of defence, the question of how to enable users deployed forward supplied with energy in a renewable, reliable way is as important - if not more so in some ways, such as survivability and tactical advantage.” For such lines of defence, from smaller bases to individual soldiers on the move, energy remains key but various factors mean traditional supplies are less viable. “Take diesel - it's loud for starters. Then it also requires a supply chain which comes with its own issues. The more you use, the more you need, and that needs to get as far forward as possible, which isn't always easy. Essentially, the further forward you are, the less diesel you tend to have, the less batteries you have, which means alternative power solutions and sources are key. At ZeroAlpha our mission is to keep the guys and girls as far forward as safe as possible - and energy solutions are key to this.”

Powering On The Man (OTM) applications

ZeroAlpha has developed a power management and generation system that will support OTM applications in austere and zero-infrastructure operational environments. Operating a modular System of Systems approach, it offers variable energy collection and power management sources to support a variety of operational environments, user devices and tactical situations. This system is capable of delivering a high level of energy sustainment for small teams over extended mission profiles, reducing dependency on traditional AC and AC/DC systems. The system provides a 'Power of Opportunity' approach to collecting energy from 9-40v DC sources as well as 96-265v 50 or 60 Hz inputs, offering a low SWaP profile for small teams operating forward of main forces to deliver prolonged operating times, energy security and reduced sustainment.

“The principle is not dissimilar to the idea of keeping a civilian mobile phone charged,” says Rawson. “You need that device to carry out certain tasks when you're away from a power source, so you use various other sources at different times to ensure you can. You would charge it up at home, then maybe in a vehicle if you can. Then if you have to leave those power sources behind, you would use other portable equivalents like a power bank, or maybe a portable solar panel. It's the same for military devices - what we're trying to do is to facilitate portable power systems that can operate independently, in the absence of traditional sources such as grid power for extended periods.”

ZeroAlpha's technology operates a 'scavenger mindset', hence its Vulture Scavenger name, it does just this, allowing dismounted soldiers to use alternative sources to charge devices in the field. This reduces both cognitive and physical burden, reducing the number of batteries carried by soldiers on the move and potentially the number of devices and complexity of systems. “This is a robust, flexible and self-sustaining energy collection, power generation and energy management and distribution system that delivers an agile, highly mobile solution in the field when teams need it most,” says Rawson.

Security and survivability

Agility and mobility is important, but ZeroAlpha's OTM application also provides tactical advantage and ultimately improves survivability for personnel operating in some of the most challenging environments in the world, explains Rawson. “If recent global events have taught us anything it is that if you are able to be seen then you will be, and if you're seen you're in danger.” The proliferation of UAVs and commercially-available drones, as well as night vision and thermal detection means power supplies can often give away location, at huge risk to the teams using them. “The ability to charge on the move, without taking loud, hot power supplies, gives operatives the opportunity to run silently. This is absolutely key for users deployed forward who want to be quiet and operative without detection, making this application absolutely key in their safety and survivability.”

Tried and tested

With years of experience under its belt, and a proven track record in getting its solutions into the hands of the people who need them, ZeroAlpha is perfectly placed to offer the next generation in sustainable power capabilities to defence and security markets not only in the UK but across Europe. The company's technology is already used by the Royal Marines, and is set to be adopted by NATO members following a NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) framework agreement.

The OTM solutions ZeroAlpha has created do not stop there, with the potential for replication across scales - meaning its systems can be adapted and taken forward to ensure sustainable, renewable power supply to vehicles, bases and more. For Rawson, the latest developments are simply part of the company's ongoing aim. “Our mission is to be one of the UK and European leaders in the delivery of third party communications, information management and sustainable power solutions to the defence, security and intelligence markets, that will exceed the requirements and performance expectations of our customers,” he told Soldier Mod. “With technology like this, that's exactly what we're doing, ensuring the needs of those operating in some of the harshest environments are not just met - but provided for in a way that contributes to their safety and tactical advantage.”

ZeroAlpha Solutions logo For more information visit:

Upcoming Events
SoldierMod eBook
Click here for SoldierMod FREE eBook