GM and the U.S. Army Collaborate on Fuel Cell Technology
(3BL Media/Justmeans) - General Motors (GM) and the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development & Engineering Centre (TARDEC) are expanding their collaboration in the development of hydrogen fuel cell technology. This collaboration will enable GM and TARDEC to jointly develop technology that meets both of their requirements, accomplishing more tangible results than either could achieve on its own. GM and TARDEC engineers are developing extensive plans to share physical material and data between their locations, which are only 20 miles apart. The project is expected to continue for up to five years.
TARDEC has opened a new Fuel Cell Research Laboratory located in the recently opened Ground System Power and Energy Laboratory building in Warren, Mich. The state-of-the-art facility enables TARDEC to test and integrate the fuel cell systems it has been developing for military applications for more than a decade. It is also evaluating GM fuel cell vehicles in a comprehensive demonstration in Hawaii. The technology has possible military applications ranging from ground vehicles to mobile generators.
So why is the U.S. government working with private companies to make fuel cells a practical source for energy and investing in research? The reason has everything to do with oil. America imports 55 per cent of its oil; by 2025 this is expected to grow to 68 per cent. Two thirds of the oil Americans use every day is for transportation, and even if every vehicle were a hybrid car, by 2025 America would still need to use the same amount of oil then as it does now. The U.S. consumes one-quarter of all the oil produced in the world, even though only 4.6 per cent of the world population resides here. The government is keen to investigate technologies and partnerships that give the U.S. a decisive advantage. Collaborations like this one with GM are accelerating technologies critical to the transportation and energy capabilities of the future.
GM is an acknowledged leader in fuel cell technology. The Clean Energy Patent Growth Index ranks GM at Number One in total fuel cell patents filed between 2002 and 2012. Its Project Driveway program, launched in 2007, has accumulated nearly 3 million miles of real world driving in a fleet of 119 hydrogen-powered vehicles, more than any other automaker. GM is currently building a new Fuel Cell Development Laboratory in Pontiac, Mich., where the majority of the company’s fuel cell development work will take place.
Fuel cell technology generates power without pollution—a current challenge for automobiles today. The only emission from fuel cell vehicles is steam because this type of energy can be produced from water. Other countries are also exploring fuel-cell applications as oil dependency and global warming are international problems. Scientists and manufacturers still have a lot of work to do before fuel cells become a practical alternative to current energy production methods. Yet with international support, the goal to have a viable fuel cell-based energy system could be a reality in a couple of decades.
Photo Credit: GM News