General Motors and the US Army Tank Automotive Research, Development & Engineering Center (TARDEC) are expanding their collaboration in the development of hydrogen fuel cell technology. TARDEC currently is evaluating GM fuel cell vehicles in a comprehensive demonstration in Hawaii. (Earlier post.)
Through a new Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) GM and TARDEC will jointly test new hydrogen fuel cell-related materials and designs to evaluate their performance and durability before assembling them into full scale fuel cell propulsion systems. The partners said that the collaborative effort will enable them jointly to develop technology that meets both of their requirements, accomplishing more tangible results than either could achieve on its own. The project is expected to continue for up to five years.
This is the second fuel cell-related announcement GM has made this year. In July, GM and Honda announced a long-term, definitive master agreement to co-develop a next-generation fuel cell system and hydrogen storage technologies, aiming for the 2020 time frame. (Earlier post.)
According to Clean Energy Patent Growth Index, GM ranked Nº 1 in total fuel cell patents filed between 2002 and 2012. GM’s Project Driveway program, launched in 2007, has accumulated nearly 3 million miles (4.8 million km) 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.
TARDEC and GM’s respective fuel cell laboratories are about 20 miles apart, which greatly promotes daily collaboration, and GM and TARDEC engineers are developing extensive plans to share physical material and data between the locations.
TARDEC opened a new Fuel Cell Research Laboratory located in the recently opened Ground System Power and Energy Laboratory (GSPEL) building in Warren, Mich. The facility enables TARDEC to test and integrate the fuel cell systems it has been developing for military applications for more than a decade.
GSPEL comprises eight discrete advanced power, energy and mobility laboratories, including the fuel cell lab. The other facilities are the Power and Energy Vehicle Environmental Laboratory; Electric Components Laboratory; Air Filtration Laboratory; Power Laboratory; Thermal Management Laboratory; Energy Storage Laboratory; and Calorimeter Laboratory.
The GSPEL’s FCL is focused on researching and understanding the processing of JP-8 fuel for use with fuel cells to achieve power-dense, efficient power sources. Integrating a fuel processor with a fuel-cell stack is what defines a military fuel-cell power system, the lab says. Lab engineers and technicians investigate, test and characterize full fuel-cell power systems and fuel processor performance for manned and unmanned military ground vehicles.
For TARDEC, fuel cell technology has possible military applications ranging from ground vehicles to mobile generators.