Last week in Honolulu, the four major branches of the U.S. military unveiled the “world’s first military fleet of fuel cell vehicles,” comprised of 16 General Motors vehicles.
Hawaii’s ideal climate was chosen as a first step for vehicle evaluation and utilization of associated infrastructure prior to introduction of similar technology in other states, and in other types of vehicles, including potentially those for tactical purposes.
“Once the key hydrogen infrastructure elements are proven in Hawaii, other states can adopt a similar approach,” said Charles Freese, executive director of global fuel cell activities for General Motors, a founding partner of the Hawaii Hydrogen Initiative. “The military is paving the way, demonstrating the practicality and applicability of this technology.”
The vehicles are being paid for by the Army Tank Automotive Research Development Engineering Center (TARDEC), Office of Naval Research and Air Force Research Laboratories (ONR) and Air Force Research Laboratories (AFRL).
The fuel cell vehicles can travel up to 200 miles on a single charge, refuel in five minutes and produce zero emissions.
According to the official home page of the U.S. army, www.army.mil, the fielding of military fuel cell vehicles with the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines is the latest effort by the Hawaii Hydrogen Initiative.
This organization, founded in December 2010 has the stated goal of “displacing petroleum imports by operating vehicles with renewable hydrogen,” and counts among its 13 sponsors GM, The U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Pacific Command, other government bodies, companies and universities.
The U.S. military has long been viewed as a driver of advanced-tech vehicle development, and is also experimenting with all other forms of clean energy alternatives.
“The Army continues to investigate technologies and partnerships that give the United States a decisive advantage,” said Lt. Gen. Francis J. Wiercinski, commanding general of U.S. Army, Pacific. “These fuel cell vehicles will help move the U.S. Army in the Pacific toward a sustainable path that reduces energy security challenges and strengthens our energy independence.”