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Brandon Seiler's Blog on Cars

Army to test hybrid-electric and fuel-cell vehicles, tanks included

Military tanks are to Prius' as the NRA is to PETA, right? Maybe not – The U.S Army Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center began construction this week on a 30,000-square-foot facility that will be used to test military vehicles ranging from HMMWVs to tanks with hybrid-electric and fuel-cell technologies. It’s called the Ground Systems Power and Energy Laboratory (GSPEL), and for all you military-industrial complex conspirators out there, it’s being built in Warren, Michigan. From the press release: 

“Military vehicles provide special testing challenges because they operate at extremely high power levels under extreme environmental conditions, often requiring new and experimental technologies. Currently no such facility exists to meet these challenges; therefore, the Army determined it needed a one-of a kind, fully integrated test facility.” (1)

As if the Army wasn’t green enough already (ha!) the new building is designed to meet an Army mandate that all new construction be certified under the “Silver” category of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System. 

Amongst other goodies inside the enviro-friendly walls, there will be eight engineering laboratories for testing hybrid electric components, advanced energy storage devices, fuel cells, heat exchangers, air filtration systems and specific research on electric motors, batteries and ultracapcitors – wikipedia that last one under “Electric double-layer capacitor” if you’re so inclined. 

But what’s the primary mission of GSPEL you ask? Take a deep breath:

“GSPEL’s primary mission is to reduce the development time while simultaneously improving reliability associated with advanced technologies so they can be used immediately with high confidence in demanding Army conditions. In this way GSPEL will help to expedite the integration of hybrid-electric and fuel-cell technologies into advanced military vehicles,” says Mike Kluger, a senior program manager in the SwRI Fuels and Lubricants Research Division. “In doing so, it will help reduce vehicle fuel consumption and improve overall vehicle performance.” (1)

If you read that slowly a couple times it makes a lot of sense. GSPEL is expected to be operational in two years… Imagine a whisper-quiet tank…Scary. 

Sources:
(1) http://www.swri.org/9what/releases/2009/ArmLab.htm


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Brandon Seiler is a bonafide car guy, member of the Northwest Auto Press Association and proud Washingtonian. He covers the latest auto news, technology, and pretty much anything having to do with car culture. You don't have to like cars to read his blogs, you just have to be able to read.

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