DETROIT ARSENAL, Mich. – As the nation observes National Energy Awareness Month in October, the Army continues research on energy security, fuel efficiency and alternate power capabilities for its fleet of ground vehicles.
The U.S. Army Tank Automotive, Research, Development and Engineering Center in Warren, Mich., is developing technologies such as advanced batteries, hybrid electric powertrains, fuel cells, lightweight materials, clean fuels, streamlined designs, microgrids and robotics.
“The Army owns and operates the largest fleet of ground vehicles in the world – totaling almost half a million vehicles,” said TARDEC Director Dr. Grace M. Bochenek. “It is, therefore, crystal clear why ground vehicles are and should be a critical focus area for Army power and energy research and development.”
TARDEC makes sure the government maximizes engineering, technology and program management benefits, Bochenek said. She said the command takes a systems-of-systems approach to look at the whole spectrum to see where value can be added or technology can be better integrated.
TARDEC has formed partnerships with industry and academia that focus on development of dual-use technologies.
In January, TARDEC partnered with government, academia and industry researchers in the development of advanced vehicle batteries. This resulted in the Advanced Automotive Battery Initiative, which pursues development of cost competitive, flexible, lightweight, reliable and domestically-sourced battery components and materials for application in military and commercial vehicles by 2015.
The Initiative helped the organizations involved in the project receive $2.4 billion in federal battery and electric vehicle research grants earlier this year.
“We are leading development and integration of component technologies, both on our own and through leveraging our relationships in the scientific and automotive research communities,” Bochenek said.
In August, the organization broke ground on a 30,000-square-foot laboratory complex, the Ground System Power and Energy Laboratory, or GSPEL, which will house vehicle research and development operations in eight independent facilities housed within the same building.
Facilities in the GSPEL are the Power and Energy Vehicle Environment Lab, the Power (Electrochemical) Lab, the Electrical Power and Architecture Systems Integration Lab, the Hybrid-Electric Lab, the Fuel Cell lab, the Pulse Power and Directed Energy lab, the Thermal Management Lab and the Air Filtration Lab.
In the laboratory, TARDEC scientists and engineers will develop new ground fuels and lubricants, lightweight materials and structures, robotics, laser and imaging technologies, thermal and power management capabilities, alternate energy sources, reconfigurable vehicle platforms, advanced simulation and testing operations, energy storage systems and vehicle electronics, among other areas.
Once fully operational, the GSPEL will allow TARDEC to conduct research and development that will help meet U.S. Army energy security goals, Bochenek said.
“We have to think about our power and energy needs in a holistic manner because it’s the only way to derive the most value,” Bochenek said.