Electrical power generation in austere settings, such as combat zones, places a heavy burden on the US Army; high costs in both dollars and lives lost require that every drop of fuel be used effectively and efficiently. In remote locations such as combat outposts (COPs) and small forward operating bases (FOBs) in Afghanistan, electrical power derived from the Army’s standard Advanced Medium Mobile Power Sources (AMMPS) generator is even used to heat water for showers and heat living spaces. This heating requires conversion of thermal energy to mechanical energy, which is then converted to electrical energy and back to heat. Thus, a significant fuel savings could be realized through the more efficient production of heat. A combined heat and power system is proposed; efficiency is increased by routing the generator exhaust through simple ducting to a standard gas hot water heater to produce hot water with waste heat. With funding from the U.S. Army Rapid Equipping Force, cadets and faculty at the United States Military Academy designed, built and tested a system for under $1,000 in parts which was readily coupled to a 5 kW AMMPS generator to produce hot shower water. Results indicate a possible fuel savings of 1500–2000 gallons per year, 20–35% increased fuel utility, and the ability to provide 10–20 five gallon showers during every 5 hours of operation of each 5 kW generator. At a fuel cost of $20–50 per gallon in the deployed environment, and considering the large inventory of deployed generators, the payback for the Army could be tremendous.

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