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U.S. Military Goes Green, Testing Fuel Cell M1 Abrams Tanks
Daily Tech ^ | Wednesday, July 14, 2010 | Tiffany Kaiser

Posted on 07/14/2010 10:24:17 AM PDT by Willie Green

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. 


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Government
KEYWORDS: army; fuelcells; globalwarmingscare; greenieweenies; nationaldefense; nationalsecurity; stuckonstupid

1 posted on 07/14/2010 10:24:19 AM PDT by Willie Green
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To: Willie Green
A tank of highly explosive hydrogen fuel in a tank. What could go wrong?
2 posted on 07/14/2010 10:25:33 AM PDT by OldDeckHand
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To: Willie Green

So a 60 ton tank is gonna sneak up on someone? Will it involve high speed rail?


3 posted on 07/14/2010 10:26:37 AM PDT by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
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To: OldDeckHand
In addition, the use of a fuel cell would make the tank's motor run in near silence.

I guess they are going to have silent treads too!

4 posted on 07/14/2010 10:27:32 AM PDT by a fool in paradise (I wish our president loved the US military as much as he loves Paul McCartney.)
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To: OldDeckHand

“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.” “


5 posted on 07/14/2010 10:29:08 AM PDT by ArrogantBustard (Western Civilization is Aborting, Buggering, and Contracepting itself out of existence.)
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To: ArrogantBustard

Not a bad idea if it works.


6 posted on 07/14/2010 10:30:54 AM PDT by Perdogg (Nancy Pelosi did more damage to America on 03/21 than Al Qaeda did on 09/11)
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To: Willie Green

There was an article in last month’s Semper Fi magazine (The magazine of the Marine Corps League) about the Marine Corps going green. I have also read an article about it within the last year in the Marine Corps Gazette. However, I have to say that I agree with what they are trying to do. They are trying to use more renewables and be more independent because the more energy they use at a forward operating base, the more resupply convoys they need and the more chances to hit the convoys with IEDs and ambushes.

I think our Marine forward operating bases are becoming too dependent on technology and using too much energy. The Marine footprint has always been small and they should not be energy hogs needing constant resupply. They should be able to operate independently and they need to strive towards that.


7 posted on 07/14/2010 10:31:18 AM PDT by Old Teufel Hunden (u)
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To: Willie Green

Silent tanks.

Now we know why we don’t have this technology in cars.

And we also know that we will have it in cars once the technology is well known and everybody has it.

I’m OK using gas until our guys get done blowing up our enemies.


8 posted on 07/14/2010 10:32:51 AM PDT by dockkiller (COME AND TAKE IT.)
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To: driftdiver
Will it involve high speed rail?

only if they can run the rails through pork-barrel lovin' senator's districts and call it 'stimulus'.

9 posted on 07/14/2010 10:33:42 AM PDT by WOBBLY BOB (drain the swamp! ( then napalm it and pave it over ))
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To: Perdogg
The decision to use a turbine engine in the M1 was controversial, in the 1970s. I believe it has been vindicated.

The use of fuel cells is also likely to be controversial, but good science and engineering practice would be to test extensively and follow the data. If it's a bad idea, we'll know why. If it's a good idea, we'll be a step or two ahead of the bad guys. And that's always a good place to be.

10 posted on 07/14/2010 10:37:11 AM PDT by ArrogantBustard (Western Civilization is Aborting, Buggering, and Contracepting itself out of existence.)
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To: Willie Green

Another green wet dream bites the dust of reality.


11 posted on 07/14/2010 10:37:13 AM PDT by Cheetahcat (Zero the Wright kind of Racist! We are in a state of War with Democrats)
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To: Willie Green
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.

--I'd sure like to see a simplified engineering diagram of this---

12 posted on 07/14/2010 10:37:43 AM PDT by rellimpank (--don't believe anything the MSM tells you about firearms or explosives--NRA Benefactor)
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To: Willie Green
A lot of the energy in JP-8 is in the carbon bonds (sorry, I don't have a ratio of the energy from burning the whole molecule compared to extracting the hydrogen and burning it). That means that you have less total energy available. So either the fuel cell is a lot more efficient than the turbine, or the M1's already low gas mileage will drop even further.
13 posted on 07/14/2010 10:41:31 AM PDT by KarlInOhio (Gun control was originally to protect Klansmen from their victims. The basic reason hasn't changed.)
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To: dockkiller
Silent tanks.

You could hear a tank coming for 2 miles away, engine or no engine.

14 posted on 07/14/2010 10:42:11 AM PDT by dragnet2
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To: ArrogantBustard

The turbine works on the M1, but it’s THIRSTY.

Unlike the diesel IC alternative, it sucks fuel even when standing still.

Every tank since the M1 has chosen the modern IC diesel and even The US Army has said that the M1’s replacement will more than likely not use the turbine again.


15 posted on 07/14/2010 10:42:16 AM PDT by SJSAMPLE
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To: SJSAMPLE
The US Army has said that the M1’s replacement will more than likely not use the turbine again.

Perhaps this explains why they're looking at fuel cells? My first thought on reading this was that it would resolve the problems of eating gas while standing still. My second thought is that JP8 is a fairly heavy fuel, and IIRC fuel cells extract usable energy only from the hydrogen; the carbon is thrown away. I'm more than a little curious as to the total system efficiency compared to a diesel or turbine engine.

16 posted on 07/14/2010 10:47:54 AM PDT by ArrogantBustard (Western Civilization is Aborting, Buggering, and Contracepting itself out of existence.)
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To: rellimpank

When I get home from work, I’ll Photoshop an Abrams tiptoeing toward the enemy wearing oversized bunny slippers.


17 posted on 07/14/2010 10:50:04 AM PDT by RandallFlagg (30-year smoker, E-Cigs helped me quit, and O wants me back smoking again?)
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To: Willie Green

The last thing any tank needs is to go green. You can ALWAYS get a fillup. You just swing the main gun in the direction of the gas station office...


18 posted on 07/14/2010 10:50:09 AM PDT by PzLdr ("The Emperor is not as forgiving as I am" - Darth Vader)
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To: rellimpank
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.

An interesting quote considering that the Iraqi insurgents referred to the M1A2 as "Whispering Death" due to the low noise signature of its turbine engine compared with the diesels used by the British MBT. And on the subject of what another poster said about tracks the M1A2s tracks are tensioned so they don't make nearly as much noise as traditional tracks. Not silent, but no worse than big off road wheels. Makes them a PITA to change though.

No harm in experimenting though. A while back they tried to run a B-52 off of coal dust, just to see if it could be done. If the gas supply does get cut off it isn't a bad idea to have a plan B available. After all the turbine was a plan B due to the fact that we couldn't rely on the quality of foreign fuel supplies. So they built an engine that could run on almost any flammable liquid.
19 posted on 07/14/2010 10:50:11 AM PDT by GonzoGOP (There are millions of paranoid people in the world and they are all out to get me.)
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To: RandallFlagg

“a new hybrid Army aircraft that resembles a blimp “

“Frank it’s the big hit
It’s the blimp
It’s the blimp Frank
It’s the blimp”


20 posted on 07/14/2010 11:00:43 AM PDT by Dr. Bogus Pachysandra ( Ya can't pick up a turd by the clean end!)
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To: RandallFlagg; GonzoGOP

—sounds better than running a B-52 on coal dust , as purported in post 19-—


21 posted on 07/14/2010 11:05:06 AM PDT by rellimpank (--don't believe anything the MSM tells you about firearms or explosives--NRA Benefactor)
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To: dragnet2

“You could hear a tank coming for 2 miles away, engine or no engine.”

Despite all the like postings above, one of the advantages of the Abrams tank is the low noise of its gas turbine powerplant...noise-wise, for a tank, it is very “stealthy.”... especially compared to piston driven, gas or diesel, powered tanks.....the drawback is that the M-1 is a very thirsty beast!

A fuel cell is a fuel source not a powerplant...... imagine a hydrogen fueled turbine!

As a suggested reading try “King of the Killing Field.” the story of the M-1 Abrams tank....which details the Abrams developement starting in the 1970’s. An interesting read on the world’s best MBT.

Read “team Yankee” for a fictionalized account of a wartime M-1 tank Team during a Warsaw Pact era WWIII senario.....The Abrams is still the best tank fielded by any country.....even in 2010 it has no battlefield peer....

Me? I rather like my boots in the mud..... So tanks?....No thanks! LOLOLOLOL


22 posted on 07/14/2010 11:11:17 AM PDT by Forty-Niner (One aspect of the information age is the acceptance as fact of the uninformed opinion)
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To: ArrogantBustard

IIRC, I read the info about a return to a diesel IC engine before fuel cells became popular. Then again, the Army has a vibrant R&D budget and mayber they really were thinking that far ahead?


23 posted on 07/14/2010 11:13:40 AM PDT by SJSAMPLE
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To: Forty-Niner

The posters were talking about the TRACKS and they’re right.
Noisy, no matter what we’ve tried (except band tracks, which are much less noisy).

And, A fuel cell IS a powerplant.
It (traditionally) converts hydrocarbons to electricity, which is then used to drive electric motors. The hydrogen is the fuel that’s stored in a separate fuel tank.


24 posted on 07/14/2010 11:17:50 AM PDT by SJSAMPLE
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To: SJSAMPLE

“And, A fuel cell IS a powerplant.
It (traditionally) converts hydrocarbons to electricity, which is then used to drive electric motors. The hydrogen is the fuel that’s stored in a separate fuel tank.”

Ya mean by some sort of combustion engine?


25 posted on 07/14/2010 11:29:56 AM PDT by Forty-Niner (One aspect of the information age is the acceptance as fact of the uninformed opinion)
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To: Forty-Niner

It uses the fuel (hydrogen) an oxidant (catalyst) and an electrolyte.

There are MANY complicated variants, but the end result is the electricity is produced (along with water and oxygen). Electricity is a direct result, no generator needed.


26 posted on 07/14/2010 11:35:55 AM PDT by SJSAMPLE
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To: Willie Green

We need a nuke plant small enough to put in a tank.

Call it the OGRE Mk I


27 posted on 07/14/2010 12:01:05 PM PDT by agere_contra (Obama did more damage to the Gulf economy in one day than Pemex/Ixtoc did in nine months)
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To: SJSAMPLE

“The posters were talking about the TRACKS and they’re right.”

They were? Funny....If it were tracks they were talking about the powerplant type would not be relevant to noise generation discussed in the article.....either powerplant type would have similiar “tracks” with similiar noise factors.

From the article.....

“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. “

I don’t see where TRACKs are the issue.......The issue is Turbine v Fuel cell and their relative noise factors......

There’s a bit of embelishing going on as the turbine engine used in the Abrams Tank is considered stealthy by MBT standards......To say that the turbine engine can be heard from miles away is just not true.

The fuel cell, which uses a combustion engine to generate electricity to power wheel driving/ancillary systems electric motors. These fuel burning engines may or may not be quietier..... I think that those engines would be still be rather large in order to generate the necessary amounts of electricity needed by the electric motors....which would need to be 1000+ horsepower or better to equal the turbine in performance.

the central issue seems to me to be one of fuel consumption with the fuel cell being touted as being better, though I question wheather it can generate the same or better power, and worry about downtime for maintainance, especially during critical battlefield usage......

The purpose of a tank is to win Battles, not provide the best EPA rated MPG....


28 posted on 07/14/2010 12:11:01 PM PDT by Forty-Niner (One aspect of the information age is the acceptance as fact of the uninformed opinion)
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To: dragnet2

In a lot of cases, you can also actually feel it coming too.


29 posted on 07/14/2010 12:21:06 PM PDT by RinaseaofDs
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To: Willie Green

It’s not about being “green”, it’s about having alternatives to oil based fuels. Embargoes, no oil reserves, refineries down, etc. could cause a shortage for the military.

Coal refined into jet fuel is one example.

The military has been looking at these options for some time. Technology and science are finally catching up and the military is looking into it.


30 posted on 07/14/2010 12:29:05 PM PDT by SZonian (We began as a REPUBLIC, a nation of laws. We became a DEMOCRACY, majority rules. Next step is?)
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To: Forty-Niner

I believe the first post you responded to said, “engine or no engine”, meaning that the poster knows that the tanks is noisy, despite the engine. Separate from the article, but important when somebody talks about the lack of engine noise.

The ARTICLE was about the powerplant, and it’s about more than the mileage of a particular vehicle. By the time a gallon of suitable JP8 reaches that tank, it’s cost is multiplied by as much as 10X. All of this extra cost from the logistics train that must support that tank. That’s why recent M1’s were fitted with APUs, so that they didn’t have to run the turbine to run the electronics. A tank sits still, electronics running, FAR LONGER than it will ever drive.

Whoever mentioned “stealth” in respect to the Abrams is, indeed, embellishing (to say the least).

Why do you keep referring to a fuel cell as a “combustion” engine? You couldn’t be farther from the truth. Go ahead and do some research, first. They’re SILENT. They have NO MOVING PARTS. They are a electrochemical reaction, not the explosive process of an internal combustion engine or even the combustion of a turbine.

Sure, tanks are for battles.
They have to get there and they have to have FUEL.

Cutting the logistics train for JP8 by even 1/3 would be a HUGE improvement in the tank’s war-fighting ability. Less cost of fuel also means more money for spare parts and other consumeables.

I don’t think you have the right idea of what a “fuel cell” actually is?


31 posted on 07/14/2010 12:59:48 PM PDT by SJSAMPLE
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To: RinaseaofDs
In a lot of cases, you can also actually feel it coming too.

No kidding....If ya got a platoon of 50 ton tanks heading your way, you're going to know it well in advance...Engine or no engine.

Besides, tanks are death traps in a real war environment, unless your going up against backwards, 3rd world armies, that can't even supply parts for their military machine. Like Iraq!

32 posted on 07/14/2010 4:09:42 PM PDT by dragnet2
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To: SJSAMPLE
The posters were talking about the TRACKS and they’re right.

Yep....A blind man could feel a platoon of tanks coming his way....Engine or no engine.

33 posted on 07/14/2010 4:11:35 PM PDT by dragnet2
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(((Tracks and weight)))


34 posted on 07/14/2010 4:13:45 PM PDT by dragnet2
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