The U.S. Army invites interested entities to participate in the xTechInternational Competition, a forum for eligible international small businesses to engage with the Army, earn prize money and investigate funding opportunities to tackle Army challenges across three key technology areas: Energy; Water; and Synthetic Biology.
The U.S. Army Futures Command (AFC), Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC), and the U.S. Office of Naval Research Global (ONR-G) partnered with Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology) (ASA(ALT)), to deliver the xTechInternational competition. The Army recognizes that the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) must enhance engagements with eligible international small businesses, by: (1) understanding the spectrum of ‘world-class’ technologies being developed commercially that may benefit the DoD; (2) integrating the sector of non-traditional innovators into the DoD Science and Technology (S&T) ecosystem; and (3) providing mentorship and expertise to accelerate, mature, and transition technologies of interest to the DoD.
Topic 1: Electric Power and Energy Technologies
Challenge: As new and future Army systems are planned for expeditionary operations; developers are focusing on electric power to decrease the reliance on fossil fuels and to alleviate supply line issues. The DoD is seeking technologies to facilitate future electric systems that can operate in varied conditions. Of particular interest are the following energy technologies for expeditionary operations:
- Critical Infrastructure energy technologies to support high demand for electric power on the battlefield, such as tactical battlefield recharging capability for onboard vehicle batteries.
- High Energy Battery Technology, greater than 400Wh/kg, to keep up with the demand for high density energy storage with long life cycle and fast charging capabilities (>=4C rate with limited degradation), across a wide operational temperature range (-46 to +71 Celsius, per MIL-PRF-32565).
- Technologies for Improving Battery Safety that can reduce safety risks posed by thermal runaway of high energy density battery systems.
- Open-Source Lithium ion 6T Battery Management System (BMS) & Case design that meets Army standards, which the Army can then provide to battery manufacturers, to reduce battery manufacturers' challenges to developing Army compliant lithium-ion 6T batteries. This also enables the Army to swiftly adopt of new and emerging battery cell technologies in the Lithium-ion 6T space.
Topic 2: Water Technologies
Challenge: Expeditionary forces are operating in locations where local water sources may contain microbial, chemical, or heavy metal contamination and supply lines are unreliable to deliver timely supplies. The DoD is seeking technologies to produce potable water in real-time using a scalable solution with minimal logistical requirements, in order to support enduring operations. Of particular interest are the following water technologies for expeditionary operations:
- Technologies for the extraction of water from atmosphere or non-traditional water sources.
- Removal of microbiological, chemical, and heavy metals on an individual scale.
- Real time water sensors to support individual Soldier field purification efforts by ensuring the efficacy of the water purification device in real time and identifying contaminants in indigenous water sources.
Topic 3: SynBio Technologies
Challenge: Synthetic biology is enabling us to better harness nature to produce leap-ahead materials that we cannot make efficiently in any other way. Cell culture methods that have been the workhorse for industrial use often require very controlled process conditions and can have various limitations on the types/complexity of product produced. We want to harness biosynthesis methods beyond that paradigm to realize more efficient on-demand production of biochemicals/biomaterials anywhere in the world or fabrication of multifunctional protective materials (e.g., self-cleaning armor with integrated sensing, eye protection, tunable RF antenna and camouflage properties), and we are interested in any advancements that have been made in characterizing novel organism capabilities and steps towards engineering them. Such novel organisms could include, but not be limited to: extremophiles or typical eukaryotes (e.g., microalgae/diatoms, insect cells). Examples of potential interest areas include:
- Extremophile novel biochemical pathways tuned for selective synthesis, recovery, separation, and/or remediation of high value elements/materials (e.g., production of novel energetic materials; remediation of energetics; recovery and separation/processing of rare earth and other high-value elements).
- Open cultures (instead of expensive sterile systems) that support using non-sterile nutrients by non-experts in minimal protective gear.
- Expanding the breadth of elements that organisms can utilize to make novel materials or precursor materials that can be converted into novel materials (e.g., as is done in polymer-derived ceramics).
- Synthesis of biohybrid/multifunctional materials, toward next generation military-grade materials/coatings that cannot be affordably/feasibly fabricated in any other way [e.g., eye and sensor protection, camouflaging or concealing materials, complex multifunctional fiber materials (integrated strength/sensing/RF emission/decontamination/optical properties)]; novel energetic material production with micro/nanopackaging; structural or adhesive materials; or reinforced materials with enhanced degradation/erosion characteristics.
- Human performance applications such as living sensors for harsh environments, encapsulated skin-biotics for UV/nuclear radiation protection, responsive textile-attached antimicrobials