Laser test conducted with recycled fuel
By J.R. "Rich" Garcia, Air Force Research Laboratory
/ Published November 07, 2006
KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
The world's first firing of a laser using recycled fuel was conducted here recently by an Air Force and Boeing Company team.
During an Aug. 24 test at the Air Force Research Laboratory's Directed Energy Directorate, a chemical laser was supplied with its two main fuels -- basic hydrogen peroxide and chlorine -- which were regenerated from waste products produced during prior laser operations. Testers fired the laser at high power, on the order of several kilowatts, proving its performance.
According to Jason A. Marshall, a research chemist and the Air Force project officer on the program: "This fuel recycling process can be continued indefinitely, providing a practical way to fuel laser weapons for the Air Force and other military services without the complexity and cost of periodically supplying new fuel to the battlefield. Also, this removes the need to dispose of used fuel. With the test's successful conclusion, the laser is ready for affordable, low-risk weapons applications that meet warfighter needs. It will substantially improve warfighting logistics."
The test was conducted at the directorate's Davis Advanced Laser Facility where the regenerated fuels were produced in miniaturized electrochemical reactions that were specifically designed to collect the waste products of laser operations and convert them to fresh fuel. This chemical laser used in this demonstration is a test-bed similar to the laser device that was designed for the Advanced Tactical Laser, a major Department of Defense technology project. It involves an Air Force C-130 cargo aircraft that will carry the laser, which is intended to destroy, damage or disable ground targets with surgical precision, causing little-to-no collateral damage.