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Chevrolet Equinox hydrogen fuel cell vehicle  (Source: Chevrolet)
Research continues into hydrogen fuel cell technology, used by the military

Research continues into vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells, with automakers and government contractors investing millions into the fuel technology.

Since late 2011, the United States Marine Corps, Army and Navy have tested sixteen Chevrolet Equinox vehicles in Hawaii, according to the GM Fuel Cell Group.

Higher interest in hydrogen fuel cells is in effort to find alternatives to regular gasoline and oil that is expensive and sometimes difficult to come by on the battlefield.

"Our pursuit of alternative energy is closely tied to our commitment to continually adapt to an ever-changing security environment,” said George Ka'iliwai, U.S. Pacific Command Director of Resources, in a press statement. "Defense relationships and military approaches alone can’t solve all of our energy challenges, but they underpin the initiatives we’re taking within the Department of Defense to reduce the dependence on foreign sources of energy.”

In addition, fuel cells allow cars to be designed more freely, depending on the type of vehicle and their role in the field. As an example, one vehicle can be used as a rolling generator that can power several homes or small buildings at a single time, or can be used as a mobile command center for military forces.

The U.S. military also is testing the effort behind producing hydrogen required to power fuel cells, and is relying heavily on the private sector to help raise capital.

Suzuki is actively developing fuel cell scooters and motorcycles, with public demonstrations carried out over the past five years. Additional automakers have shown increased interest in fuel cell development, but rely on government subsidies to help generate funding for programs.

As fuel cell popularity continues to increase, however, the fuel cell supply chain needs to grow away from such heavy reliance on government funding. According to Pike Research's Kerry-Ann Adamson, lead researcher, the fuel cell industry will rebound strongly and remain viable by 2015-2016.

The 2015-2016 time frame appears to be on track with GM's goal of a mass rollout of fuel cell vehicles within the next four years.

Sources: Military Times, Sun Herald



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Suspicious
By Dorkyman on 2/29/2012 6:38:32 PM , Rating: 3
Okay, so it's been said (correctly, I think) that some of the greatest developments have come in time of war, just because war has a way of wonderfully focusing the mind and resources.

Still, I smell some "green" meddling here.

The spokesman says that it might be difficult to find conventional fuels (gasoline, diesel) in war? Good luck finding a hydrogen depot out there in the desert.

Fuel cell technology has been researched to death. Are they expecting some miraculous new mechanism that suddenly makes fuel cells practical? Compared to conventional fuels?

I suspect this highly-politicized Administration is finding ways to reward supporters; after all, they've done it many times in the recent past. Call me cynical.




RE: Suspicious
By Zoomer on 3/1/2012 12:08:40 AM , Rating: 3
Perhaps, but there is some value to being able to generate hydrogen through electrolysis, either from captured exhaust water, or from the ocean. Remember these carriers have lots of power from their nuclear power plans onboard; spare capacity can be used to generate hydrogen. Hydrogen + fuel cell combination can be lots more efficient than batteries.

One could also extend the concept and use portable NPPs in the field, though political and tactical concerns might limit that.


RE: Suspicious
By Strunf on 3/1/2012 7:23:50 AM , Rating: 2
Electrolysis requires energy and it will take more energy for the electrolysis than you can recover afterwards. Doing the electrolysis of the water during war time is impractical, it takes too much time and energy to do it.


RE: Suspicious
By GuinnessKMF on 3/1/2012 10:43:50 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
it takes too much time and energy to do it.

Maybe that's why there needs to be research into this. You're not going to get more energy that it takes to make, but it allows you to create portable energy from electricity, and therefore from any sort of fuel.

As mentioned, a carrier would be able to generate hydrogen for use in these vehicles, a carrier cannot generate gasoline.

I'm more worried about the volatility of hydrogen fuel than I am about the availability.


RE: Suspicious
By GuinnessKMF on 3/1/2012 10:53:56 AM , Rating: 2
I did a little bit of research and came across this:
http://www.phy.syr.edu/courses/modules/ENERGY/ENER... (Scroll down to everyday usage equivalents)

If energy conversions were improved to the point of actually being able to convert like this, the listing of 1kwh = 1 barrel of oil; a 100w solar panel is 47"x22" (17% efficiency panel) It would make sense for a small outpost to generate enough hydrogen to power their vehicles (and prevent the need for fuel convoys). Protecting/maintaining the fragile panels and hydrogen storage is a concern though.


RE: Suspicious
By Jedi2155 on 3/1/2012 4:36:21 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know how you did your conversion by that number is extremely off. One barrel of oil is 6.12 billion joules or 1700 KWh a far cry for Solar to take over.


RE: Suspicious
By GuinnessKMF on 3/2/2012 8:12:33 AM , Rating: 2
Sorry I misread my source due to the way they setup that section, my mistake, you're right. Using a more realistic number, 33KWh in a gallon of gas* it would require a 15.4' square panel to generate "1 gallon of gas per (sunny) hour". This would be non-trivial for the operations of a facility to rely on. All the more reason for small nuclear reactors.

* http://www.ecoworld.com/energy-fuels/electric-car-...


RE: Suspicious
By V-Money on 3/1/2012 4:04:15 PM , Rating: 2
On submarines you have to produce your own oxygen, by convention you just release the hydrogen because you don't use it for anything (therefore you aren't wasting energy). I could see a modification to capture the hydrogen and be able to supply it to ground forces who could use it.
quote:
Doing the electrolysis of the water during war time is impractical, it takes too much time and energy to do it.

Your energy argument isn't really applicable because you are taking energy from one source (nuclear reactor) and using it somewhere else (ground forces). There will always be a loss of energy at some point. As for time, its automated so who cares. We ran our O2 generators 24/7 except for maintenance (my division owned them) which took very little time.


RE: Suspicious
By Jedi2155 on 3/1/2012 4:41:19 PM , Rating: 2
The cost of electricity in producing 1 kg of hydrogen can be very expensive.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen_economy#Elec...

50-79 KWh per kg of hydrogen, which is roughly 1.2 gallon's of gas equivalent in energy content.

It can cost as much as $20/Kg depending on how and where you're making the hydrogen. Civilian economics means this is completely impractical as no one is going to pay $20/gallon in the US. Militarily though compared to $400/gallon for a soldier in Afghanistan, that is still 1/20th the price of regular petrol.


RE: Suspicious
By AnnihilatorX on 3/10/2012 8:11:23 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Electrolysis requires energy and it will take more energy for the electrolysis than you can recover afterwards.

As with energy production from ALL chemical reactions and through laws of thermodynamics

Hydrogen just need water. You can use electrolysis, algae cultures and especially the latter, which just need sunlight, is in active research.


RE: Suspicious
By Zoomer on 3/1/2012 12:25:08 AM , Rating: 2
Perhaps, but there is some value to being able to generate hydrogen through electrolysis, either from captured exhaust water, or from the ocean. Remember these carriers have lots of power from their nuclear power plans onboard; spare capacity can be used to generate hydrogen. Hydrogen + fuel cell combination can be lots more efficient than batteries.

One could also extend the concept and use portable NPPs in the field, though political and tactical concerns might limit that.


RE: Suspicious
By Dr of crap on 3/1/2012 10:07:58 AM , Rating: 2
I agree with the cynical part.
What car maker is "really" thinking that this will be a cost effective option?

Maybe they are using part of the govt funds for research to further there study into things that can help them on their bottom line!

Really, GM is thinking fuel cell in a few years??
For how much, $100,000 per vehicle?


RE: Suspicious
By danjw1 on 3/1/2012 10:26:47 AM , Rating: 1
"Green" has nothing to do with it. DOD understands that our dependence on foreign energy sources is a national security issue. It is as simple as that. Also, moving fuel in a war zone is a big expense and risk. If we can reduce the amount of fuel we move, then less convoys and less exposed soldiers.


Backwards...
By Raiders12 on 2/29/2012 7:39:59 PM , Rating: 1
This is what is wrong with our country. We only develop new tech as a byproduct of our military industrial complex. It should be science first. The Govt spent a paultry $20 billion on "Science/Tech" in 2011. We should be already beyond fuel cells in vehicles. I'm pleased that this will eventually lead to civilian break throughs, but I wish our Govt would get its priorities straight rather than worrying how to patrol Pakistan's or Iran's skies.

PS: GO NUCLEAR POWER.




RE: Backwards...
By mchentz on 2/29/2012 8:25:37 PM , Rating: 5
Our country is so afraid of nuclear it sickens me. Nuclear is very safe these days. All the bad things we hear about is 30+ year old technology failing or haveing issues.


RE: Backwards...
By Calin on 3/1/2012 2:29:11 AM , Rating: 2
Not to mention failing after being hit by a one-in-a-thousand years cataclism


RE: Backwards...
By Gondor on 3/1/2012 10:12:45 AM , Rating: 2
You mean 'nukular' ?


RE: Backwards...
By gamerk2 on 3/1/2012 11:37:14 AM , Rating: 2
Nuclear is perfectly safe, providing the plants are regularly checked for maintence issues, the staff is well trained and vigilant, management puts the saftey of the plant ahead of profits, and no unexpected design flaws pop up that no one anticipated.

Of course, these four things tend not to happen that often. Its kinda sad to go back and look at the history of Fukashima, and note all the problems that were known before they ever melted down [IE: Basements were known to be prone to flooding, one backup generator had previously failed, un-speced design changes that no one knew about, etc].


RE: Backwards...
By Solandri on 3/1/2012 4:55:43 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Nuclear is perfectly safe, providing the plants are regularly checked for maintence issues, the staff is well trained and vigilant, management puts the saftey of the plant ahead of profits, and no unexpected design flaws pop up that no one anticipated.

Of course, these four things tend not to happen that often. Its kinda sad to go back and look at the history of Fukashima, and note all the problems that were known before they ever melted down

And despite all that, nuclear still has the best safety record per kWh of any power source. That should tell you right there that the difference is not that nuclear isn't safe in practice. It's that there's a double standard - in practice nuclear is held to much stricter safety standards than any other power generation source. So strict that even with the inspection and maintenance failures you cite, the end result is still safer than other power sources.


"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates














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