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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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A few facts first
By Hammer1024 on 7/14/2010 3:27:51 PM , Rating: 2
A niggling fact about this article compel me to comment: I can't stand stupid mistakes that a few minutes of research can fix.

"...which is a diesel engine/alternator arrangement"

Nope: This is not a diesel electric engine as one would find in a locomotive engine. The engine is an AGT-1500 turbine engine currently made by Honeywell: It was originally developed as a helicopter engine by Lycoming.

This engine can use a variety of fuels: Diesel, Marine Diesel, Jet Fuel or Gasoline.

The AGT-1500 is attached to its transmission through a locking torque converter: While accelerating or decelerating the transmission is driven by a torque converter similar to that in an automatic automobile. When it is at speed, the converter locks the engine output directly to the transmission for increased efficiency.

The transmission itself is hydrostatic with four forward and two reverse gears. Turning is accomplished by varying the hydrostatic force applied to either side of the drive train: To turn left, more force is applied to the right drive wheel and less to the left wheel. To spin in place the proportional hydrostatic valving system drives one drive wheel clockwise and the other counter-clockwise.

Electrical energy for the vehicle is provided by an alternator on the AGT-1500.

In closing, this is not a diesel /electric drive-train, but a hydrostatic one with a power take of unit providing electrical power to the vehicle.

Changing to a drive/electric system might improve vehicle efficiency by removing the need for hydrostatic systems (weight savings) and running the engine in its highest efficiency RPM range, but the alternator and electric drive motors would need to be massive to get similar reliability and acceleration performance. Also, the back EMF created by braking would require either a huge resistive load to dissipate the energy or other electrical storage device to keep from blowing the motors up.

As to a fuel cell, it need not be pure hydrogen based; it could easily use the same fuels currently available. No pure hydrogen infrastructure exists, but liquid fuel storage and distribution systems obviously do...

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