General Motors and the US Army are joining forces to put hydrogen fuel cell technology to the test in extreme military environments. The project will see the Army's Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) run a 12 month test on a Chevrolet Colorado pickup truck modified to run on a commercial hydrogen fuel cell and electric powertrain.
The US military has been interested in hydrogen fuel cells for some time, helping NASA to pioneer fuel cell use decades ago. Through TARDEC the ongoing research has focused on vehicle propulsion and power export. Because electric vehicles have high low-end torque output and hydrogen offers a fast-fueling, longer-distance power source that is also capable of being modular, TARDEC has a specific interest in an off-road capable truck that uses this power source.
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Fuel cell vehicles are quiet and their power can be exported to equipment in the field. TARDEC says that this makes them a near-perfect option for scouts, special operators, and other specialists on the ground. Their only emission being water is another valuable resource in many environments.
GM and TARDEC have fuel cell development facilities just 20 miles apart in Michigan and have collaborated on fuel cell projects in the past. For this project, the modified Chevrolet Colorado HFC truck will undergo extreme testing in various simulated military uses over the next twelve months. The teams at TARDEC and GM expect to learn the limits of the current fuel cell technology being used.