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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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RE: Efficiency of fuel cells with diesel?
By FishTankX on 7/13/2010 8:17:22 PM , Rating: 2
What would probably make alot more sense is an electric drive motor strong enough to handle the powertrain and then a bank of supercapicators/A123 batteries (a 1000 pound powerpack of A123 cells can generate nearly 1100kw , enough to match the turbines actual combat power) and electric motors have full torque at zero RPM. Thus, an A123 bank and an electric motor would allow the tank to have power even with the turbine idling and probably power it long enough for the tank to start back up. (My guestimates is that the A123 pack at 1100kw would have roughly enough energy for roughly 2 minutes of full power, in which time the turbine could be restarted.)

After such a maneuver, the alternator would recharge the battery bank.

An A123 pack would have massive benefits in cost, and probably simpler versus changing the power plant, and maintenence down the road. The 1100kw motor would probably add significant weight, but not too much compared to the tank.

A 1100kw high performance motor would probably weigh about 800 pounds (the PA highdrive manages 3kw/kg) and the battery pack would be about 900 pounds, replacing the existing wankel rotary APU. About an extra ton, in exchange for dramatically lower fuel consumption and a 'silent' range of about 1 or 2 miles.

By FishTankX on 7/13/2010 9:43:06 PM , Rating: 2
Need edit button. That should be 'while the turbine is powered down'

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