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  (Source: Elite Nomads)
Army looks for ways to use fuel cells with non-petroleum sources

The United States Army has started the development and application of hydrogen fuel-cell technology to their vehicles. The first vehicle to receive this technology will be the workhorse M1 Abrams battle tank. This type of tank requires vast amounts of onboard computing power for sensors, computing equipment, battle command technology and other electronic equipment, so using fuel cell technology would be able to provide greater electrical power than the current setup, which is a diesel engine/alternator arrangement. 

In addition, the use of a fuel cell would make the tank's motor run in near silence. This is a particularly helpful feature since enemy combatants can hear the current model's 1,000+hp multi fuel turbine engine from miles away, and with a silent engine, the tank can sneak into certain territory relatively unheard. 

The use of a fuel cell would be convenient as well because the hydrogen would be extracted from JP-8 diesel fuel onboard and converted into electricity, meaning that "the current refueling infrastructure would remain in place." 

As of now, the testing of fuel cells in tanks exists only in the laboratory. The idea is to find a way to power multiple fleets of military vehicles with fuel cells "that use non-petroleum sources." There have been problems with having to deliver fuel through dangerous war zones and across two large countries. Providing security for the transport vehicles to assure that they get to the desired destination in order to fuel the tanks has become more than a thorn in their side, and fuel cell technology could possibly eliminate these worries. 

This isn't the Army's first effort toward greener technology, though. In May of this year, HP was in the process of developing a "Dick Tracy-like" watch that uses solar panels for the U.S. military. Also, a new hybrid Army aircraft that resembles a blimp and can travel for three weeks at a time unmanned, was designed and will be sent to Afghanistan by mid 2011. 

 



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By iNGEN2 on 7/13/2010 12:18:05 PM , Rating: 5
I think this is more of a "proof of concept" test. The Army is trying to figure out if a transition to an all electric power plant is feasible. "Going green" is just PR spin to putting a smiley face on "our latest discovery in how to better kill the enemy".

Electric drive would have reduced heat signature, especially at idle, reducing visibility to enemy detection systems and thus increasing combat system survivability.

Electric drive would, even if less fuel efficient at drive, would dramatically reduce total fuel consumption, because nearly half of all M1 operating hours are at idle. Additionally an electric drive would likely have fewer moving parts with fewer friction surfaces. That will reduce component failure increasing system uptime and consequently reducing maintenance cost. These last two potential benefits alone could dramatically reduce operating and ownership costs without requiring the development of a replacement combat system.

For every system refit that actually makes it into production there are probably a dozen that don't.


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