Friday, January 22, 2016

US Army Invests In Vehicles Powered By Hydrogen Fuel Cells

Despite a decade of interest, vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells are nowhere near available on a mass scale to the commercial automotive industry. There are multiple reasons for this, ranging from a lack of hydrogen fuel infrastructure to high costs per vehicle. But proponents of the technology may have finally found a market that can not only be a sustainable buyer, but may prove to the rest of the world how superior hydrogen fueled cars could be.

Chevy Colorado selected by military to test effectiveness 
of hydrogen fuel cells
The US military will begin field test runs of GM's hydrogen fuel line truck: the Chevrolet Colorado,  for scouting and reconnaissance divisions. Through the US Army's Tank Automotive Research and Engineering Center, (TARDEC) the Chevy truck will be used in a variety of situations that call for its advantages. Hydrogen fueled vehicles are dead silent, do not need daily refueling, and make water as a by-product (which could be handy in a number of ways in many desert combat scenarios)Hydrogen vehicles also have a high low-end torque power, enabling them to carry more of a heavy load.

As TARDEC Director Paul Rogers stated, "The potential capabilities hydrogen fuel cell vehicles can bring to the war fighter are extraordinary, and our engineers and scientists are excited about the opportunity to exercise the limits of this demonstrator."

With already over 3 million miles run by this previous summer, the Army, who collaborated with NASA in developing the technology years ago, clearly believes in hydrogen fuel cells as a reliable alternative to fossil fuel engines. While this should naturally be considered a sign that commercialization is not far behind, the lack of freeing up substantial government or private subsidies for building hydrogen fuel storage infrastructures all over the nation has proven to be a considerable obstacle. This could be for a variety of reasons, some of them as legitimate as a real worry over the dangers of individual vehicles powered by hydrogen on public roads, some of them as unfortunate as the technology not having a personality such as Elon Musk to devote resources and media appearances touting its benefits.

Yet, the US military's continual fidelity prove hydrogen fuel cells are not fading into obscurity anytime soon. And in a time where there is growing consensus that the status quo of fuel resources must change, the climate for vehicles like the Chevy Colorado to garner appeal is real.

Donal Thoms-Cappello is a freelance writer for Rotor Clip Company.

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