Thursday 1 September 2016

GM/US Army to probe fuel cell military vehicles

Next Month, General Motors and the US Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) will reveal a fuel cell electric vehicle; as Nikola Motor also opts for fuel cells but for Class 8 trucks.
The military vehicle, which will be unveiled at the fall meeting of the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) in Washington, D.C. is being developed under an agreement between TARDEC and GM signed in 2015 and is based on a Chevrolet vehicle.
The collaboration enables TARDEC to access consumer-driven automotive technology for use in military applications while providing GM with feedback on non-standard fuel cell technology applications.
Consistent with the US Department of Defense’s desire to leverage commercial innovation in its next-generation technologies, the Army will use the vehicle to demonstrate the capabilities fuel cell electric propulsion and power generation systems can bring to the military, including quieter mobility, exportable power generation, low-end torque and water generation.
The US Army intends to conduct user assessments and demonstrations in 2017.
”Hydrogen fuel cells as a power source have the potential to bring to the force incredibly valuable capabilities,” said TARDEC director Paul Rogers. “We expect the vehicle to be quiet in operation and ready to provide electricity generation for needs away from the vehicle. With fuel cell technology advancing, it’s an ideal time to investigate its viability in extreme military-use conditions.
“Fuel cell propulsion has low-end torque capability that is useful in an off-road environment,” Rogers said. “It also offers additional characteristics attractive to both commercial and military off-road use.”  
Neither GM nor TARDEC has released details of the intended vehicle, but Rogers said the Army is focusing on the technology and its capabilities, regardless of the platform. In theory the technology could be applied to battle tanks.
“This project is another example of how fuel cell propulsion can play a role in non-traditional applications,” claims Charlie Freese, executive director of GM’s Global Fuel Cell Activities. “We need to continue pursuing these opportunities along with our plans for production of a commercial fuel cell system in the 2020 time frame.”

                               Class 8 trucks go fuel cell

Meanwhile, after announcing earlier this year that it is building a 2,000 horsepower, hybrid semi-trailer truck, Nikola Motor Company has revealed that it will instead power the truck with a hydrogen fuel cell power system.
The custom-built, hydrogen-electric, 800-volt fuel cell 18-wheeler, a Class 8 rig that will be able to haul 80,000 lbs., will be more powerful than any other production diesel truck on the road, according to the company which has declined to reveal further details.
Nikola Motor founder and chief executive officer Trevor Milton has now revealed that the electric class 8 semi-truck, dubbed "Nikola One" will be unveiled 1 December in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The truck will retail for $375,000, nearly double the price for a standard diesel-engine powered semi-trailer. The company said it will offer a leasing plan that will run from $4,000 to $5,000 per month, depending on the configuration and options a customer chooses.
Originally, Nikola claimed the semi-trailer would have a 320 kWh) lithium-ion battery pack, together with a micro turbine, which could be configured to run on various kinds of fuel, including diesel or petroleum. The standard model was to have a natural gas tank.
Nikola’s hydrogen class 8 trucks will be more powerful than any other production diesel truck on the road and have a range of over 1,200 miles between fill-ups. It will achieve nearly 20 mile/gal with zero emissions under full load, “surpassing all the government mandates set forth for the next 10 years, including the EPA’s recently announced Phase 2 GHG standards,” according to Nikola Motor.
Other details include a range of 1,200 miles, a 15-minute refill time, an installed power potential of 1,000 bhp and 2,000 lbft torque.
And so it seems, Nikola’s engineers have changed their minds away from battery power packs, but the Salt Lake City operation also plans to produce hydrogen fuel using its own zero emission solar farms. The solar farms are expected to produce over 100 MW power each and will use electrolysis to create hydrogen from water. It sounds like the perfect solution.

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