The Army Is Taking Hydrogen Fuel Cells To War

Stealthy Chevrolet Colorado trucks will be used for special operations and scouting.
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Stealthy Chevrolet Colorado trucks will be used for special operations and scouting.
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The U.S. Army is testing hydrogen fuel cell-powered Chevrolet Colarado pickup trucks at its Michigan proving grounds.

Fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) combine compressed hydrogen with atmospheric oxygen to produce electricity for power and pure water, making them efficient power sources. The Army and General Motors are working together to examine their potential applications for sending silent electric vehicles to war in special operations and scouting missions where stealth is critical.

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Fuel cell vehicles use electric motors for propulsion, which have perfect characteristics for a military vehicle, thanks to their powerful torque and silent operation. Better still, pure water is the by-product of fuel cell operation, so the trucks can help support the troops using them in inhospitable locations.

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"Fuel cell vehicles are very quiet vehicles, on which scouts, special operators and other specialties place a premium,” said Paul Rogers, director of the Army's Tank Automotive Research, Development & Engineering Center, which is conducting the 12-month test. “What's more, fuel cells generate water as a by-product, something extremely valuable in austere environments."

"The potential capabilities hydrogen fuel cell vehicles can bring to the warfighter are extraordinary, and our engineers and scientists are excited about the opportunity to exercise the limits of this demonstrator," he added.

Obviously soldiers aren't terribly concerned about possible pollution while they are trying to stay alive, but they will likely appreciate the fuel cell's other applications.

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Photos by General Motors Co.