Skip to comments.U.S. Military Goes Green, Testing Fuel Cell M1 Abrams Tanks
Posted on 07/14/2010 10:24:17 AM PDT by Willie Green
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.
So a 60 ton tank is gonna sneak up on someone? Will it involve high speed rail?
I guess they are going to have silent treads too!
“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.” “
Not a bad idea if it works.
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.
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.
only if they can run the rails through pork-barrel lovin' senator's districts and call it 'stimulus'.
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.
Another green wet dream bites the dust of reality.
--I'd sure like to see a simplified engineering diagram of this---
You could hear a tank coming for 2 miles away, engine or no engine.
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.
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.
When I get home from work, I’ll Photoshop an Abrams tiptoeing toward the enemy wearing oversized bunny slippers.
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...
“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”
—sounds better than running a B-52 on coal dust , as purported in post 19-—
“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
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?
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.
“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 thats stored in a separate fuel tank.”
Ya mean by some sort of combustion engine?
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.
We need a nuke plant small enough to put in a tank.
Call it the OGRE Mk I
“The posters were talking about the TRACKS and theyre 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....
In a lot of cases, you can also actually feel it coming too.
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.
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?
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!
Yep....A blind man could feel a platoon of tanks coming his way....Engine or no engine.
(((Tracks and weight)))
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