USA — Army testing fuel cell technology for Abrams tank

The U.S. Army is test­ing fuel cell tech­nol­o­gy for an aux­il­iary pow­er unit which can bring more elec­tri­cal pow­er on board an Abrams tank, ser­vice offi­cials said.

M-1 Abrams Tank
Two mas­sive M-1 Abrams Tanks from 1st Bat­tal­ion, 5th Cav­al­ry Reg­i­ment, pro­vide over watch for Sol­diers from Com­pa­ny B, 2nd Bat­tal­ion, 12th Infantry Reg­i­ment, attached to the 1st Cav­al­ry Division’s 2nd Brigade Com­bat Team, while on patrol in the Al Doura dis­trict of Bagh­dad.
Pho­to cred­it Cpl. Alex­is Har­ri­son
Click to enlarge

The APU is designed to con­vert JP8 diesel fuel into hydro­gen and then gen­er­ate elec­tric­i­ty through a fuel cell; fuel cells involve a chem­i­cal reac­tion where­in elec­tri­cal cur­rent is gen­er­at­ed by the break­ing down of a hydro­gen atom, said Steven Eick, chem­i­cal engi­neer, Tank Auto­mo­tive Research, Devel­op­ment and Engi­neer­ing Cen­ter (TARDEC).

The idea is to give an Abrams tank — and ulti­mate­ly oth­er com­bat vehi­cles — the abil­i­ty to accom­mo­date more on-board elec­tric­i­ty such as more com­put­ing, bat­tle com­mand tech­nolo­gies, sen­sors and oth­er elec­tron­ics by adding fuel cells.

“Cur­rent­ly it is only being test­ed in a lab but it is being designed for the Abrams. Right now this is a pro­to­type which will increase in its pow­er den­si­ty as it gets devel­oped. Once it proves itself out in the lab — the intent is to install and test it in an actu­al vehi­cle,” said Eick.

“Our goal is to gen­er­ate more on board pow­er to help sup­port radios and oth­er equip­ment.”

Army engi­neers are also exper­i­ment­ing with fuel cell tech­nol­o­gy used to dri­ve non-tac­ti­cal vehi­cles, Eick said.

Sto­ry High­lights

  • The APU is designed to con­vert JP8 diesel fuel into hydro­gen and then gen­er­ate elec­tric­i­ty through a fuel cell
  • Fuel cells involve a chem­i­cal reac­tion where­in elec­tri­cal cur­rent is gen­er­at­ed by the break­ing down of a hydro­gen atom
  • Army engi­neers are also exper­i­ment­ing with fuel cell tech­nol­o­gy used to dri­ve non-tac­ti­cal vehi­cles
    • Source:
      U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
      Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)