Chief of Naval Research updated on science, technology programs

By Space and Naval Warfare Systems Public Affairs, Ashley Nekoui | February 05, 2013

The chief of Naval Research and director, Innovation, Technology Requirements, and Test and Evaluation, visited the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific (SSC Pacific) Jan. 29.

Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder was at the command to learn and receive updates about the range of science and technology programs that are taking place at SSC Pacific.

Microbial fuel cells (MFCs), biofuel, machine learning, and control of unmanned systems using widgets were some of the topics covered during Klunder's visit.

MFCs harvest energy from the marine environment by capturing electrons transferred from bacteria in anaerobic sediment. Many bacteria can convert chemical energy to electrical energy; they do this by oxidizing diverse organic substrates, transferring electrons to anodic electrodes which then generate electricity in the MFCs.

SSC Pacific's MFC team has focused their work on field functionality: increasing power production, deploying without assistance, building low power electronic sensor packages, developing of small unmanned underwater vehicles powered by MFCs, and determining if MFCs can succeed in specific areas of strategic interest to the Navy.

Klunder was familiar with the MFC project and encouraged the team to continue moving forward with their efforts.

Another presentation of interest to Klunder was the environmental fate and effects of new generation biofuels.

The Navy is committed to demonstrating a "Green Strike Group" composed of aircraft and ships powered by biofuels in 2016.

The Navy must select biofuels that are environmentally relevant to air emissions and that comply with regulations for water quality associated with fuel storage, spills and transport.

SSC Pacific has chemistry, bioassay, and modeling capabilities to generate the required environmental data for candidate biofuels, and is positioned to add a critical element to the Navy's alternative fuel certification program.

Cross collaborative projects were highlighted during Klunder's visit. The cross competency teams of within the Command and Control, Communications and Networks, Information Assurance, and Research and Applied Sciences departments developed a project that incorporates unmanned systems, widgets, and the Cloud.

The focus of this project is to develop technology that would demonstrate the ability to tactically control unmanned systems using a web browser from the ozone widget framework by breaking up large unmanned vehicle control applications into smaller components displayed by widgets. Conceptually, an operator, located anywhere in the world, can access and control the unmanned system from the widgets.

The movements and views of the unmanned system are captured and stored within the Cloud, to be retrieved and visualized by local and remote operators. Having the imagery stored within the Cloud allows personnel to access the data from unmanned systems easily.

Klunder said he was pleased with the group's results, and supportive of the next program highlighted during his visit, which focused on machine learning in deception detection, information extraction, and multi-modal detection.

A science, mathematics and research for transformation (SMART) scholar pursuing his doctoral degree in computer science briefed the admiral on this focus area.

Recognizing the Center as a sponsoring facility for the SMART program, Klunder especially appreciated the collaboration that takes place with academia at SSC Pacific, noting that several of the projects that he saw during his visit had ties to local colleges and universities.

Other sites that Klunder viewed included SSC Pacific's Atmospheric Propagation Lab, Unmanned Systems Facility, Cryogenic Lab, and Photonics Lab.