U.S. Army Begins Testing of Fuel Cell Truck

The vast, often treacherous distances covered by the U.S. military in Iraq have exposed the inherent vulnerabilities of the military being dependant on a liquid petroleum-based infrastructure.

This fact hasn’t gone unnoticed by insurgents who often target fuel transports and crucial assets of the military’s fuel infrastructure. Testing of a new fuel cell-powered truck for the military is part of a new effort to explore new alternatives that could mitigate this vulnerability. General Motors and the U.S. Army are partnering to introduce the world’s first fuel cell-powered truck into U.S. military service. The U.S. Army took delivery of the crew cab pickup at the GM research facility outside of Rochester, New York where the vehicle’s two fuel cell power modules were made. “The work that GM is doing here in Honeoye Falls represents extraordinary promise for New York State and indeed the entire nation,” said Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, who helped to secure the funds for GM’s fuel cell truck in the 2005 Department of Defense appropriations. The modified Chevrolet Silverado is equipped with two 94-kW fuel cell stacks, capable of generating 188 kW of power and 317 foot-pounds of torque, or roughly the motor torque generated by GM’s 5.3 liter, V-8 engine. Three 10,000 psi compressed hydrogen storage tanks, provided by Quantum Technologies, will provide a range of 125 miles, even though the vehicle was not optimized for range. The U.S. Army will evaluate the experimental truck until July 2006 at an Army base in Ft. Belvoir, Virginia. The vehicle will be used to deliver packages, not in combat situations. Rigorous testing is planned in different climates and locations around the U.S. to assess performance and give the military first-hand experience with hydrogen and fuel cells. “Fuel cell vehicles are a good match with U.S. Army goals,” said Elizabeth A. Lowery, GM’s vice president for Environment and Energy. “We are committed to the development of new technologies that will improve fuel consumption and reduce vehicle emissions. Fuel cell systems are both clean and quiet, and therefore, can provide a battlefield advantage.”

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