The Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) and General Motors unveiled an energy-efficient tactical vehicle that could one day save lives on the battlefield. According to Kevin Centeck, team leader for Non-Primary Power Systems, Ground Vehicle Power and Mobility Directorate, TARDEC, the ZH2 hydrogen fuel cell vehicle prototype is a “collaborative effort” between TARDEC and GM, and comes with several advantages for the Army and Soldiers in the field.
First, the ZH2 operates on hydrogen fuel instead of traditional diesel. It uses much less fuel than traditional tactical vehicles. At idle, it is “extremely efficient,” Centeck said. This should reduce the logistics train. Second, it has an extremely low acoustic signature, meaning it is very quiet. “It’s silent mobility, silent watch. You don’t give away your position by turning on the engine,” he added.
Third, the ZH2 has a radically reduced thermal signature because it does not operate as hot as a diesel engine, which means the heat signature is harder to pick up by enemy thermal sensors, providing additional stealth for Soldiers. A fourth, less direct, but nonetheless important advantage is that the ZH2 demonstrated that the Army could build such a vehicle rapidly, using mostly off-the-shelf parts. The ZH2 took just one year from concept to delivery. The vehicle itself is basically a Chevy Colorado platform.
Delivery of the ZH2 from GM to the Army will take place April 1, Centeck said. Following delivery, user evaluations will take place over the course of a year with Soldiers at Fort Benning, Georgia; Fort Bragg, North Carolina; and, Fort Carson, Colorado. Over the course of the next few years, the Army will examine how it can best support hydrogen supply in the field. Department of Energy tacticians and logisticians will help conceptualize the solution and provide a plan.
Source: U.S. Army