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Panacis looks to power tomorrow’s soldiers

An Ottawa-based company has launched a new battery technology that could revolutionize the way Canadian soldiers harvest, store and deliver power on the battlefield.

It is not uncommon for modern warfighters to carry between 90 and 110 pounds of equipment on operations, so there has been a lot of effort in recent years to develop flexible, lightweight power management systems. Panacis is now offering the Energy SharePack to meet that need.

The multi-port, two-pound package was developed over a period of about nine months, though the technology behind it was developed by Panacis over the last decade.

Rather than simply try and develop a battery with greater energy density, Panacis met with Canadian soldiers and US Marines to understand the problem in the field and the operational need, explained Janet Mason, the company’s interim CEO.

“The average Canadian deployed in Afghanistan or US forces in Iraq were carrying in excess of 17 pounds of batteries, and they were using a range of several different types of batteries to power their equipment,” says Matt Fisher, Panacis’ director of business development. “We are trying to reduce that weight and consolidate the number of different power sources that they have to carry.”

The company’s solution is a device that offers more flexibility than current technologies in use by the military. The connections on the Energy SharePack are bi-directional, allowing it to capture energy from sources like solar panels, batteries, chargers, and even vehicles. It can also be used to power multiple devices at the same time.

A key feature is its ability to pull power from discarded batteries. Typically, soldiers dispose of batteries at the end of an operation even if the batteries still have life in them. These batteries are then often transported back to the U.S. in order to prevent them from falling into enemy hands. Fisher hopes that the SharePack will help reduce the amount of waste produced by the military, and cut down on the expense involved in battery disposal.

Panacis received an investment of $613,457 last summer from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) to help with the development, marketing, and commercialization of the Energy SharePack. The government funding supplemented investor capital of over $1.2 million from members of the Capital Angel Network.

The company is now in talks with Canadian, American and allied armies to gather user feedback from a series of trials conducted by test personnel in the military R&D community. It hopes to finalize the product by late this year so that they can begin volume production in 2014.

Panacis is also waiting for market feedback to assess whether the Energy SharePack can be adapted for non-military applications.

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