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    Green energy helps fuel NIE



    Courtesy Story

    2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division

    Sgt. Benjamin Kullman
    24th Press Camp Headquarters

    WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE, N.M. - In the United States Army’s continued commitment to find safer, more efficient, and cleaner forms of energy, the U.S. Army Operational Test Command has begun experimenting with the implementation of fuel cells into vehicles and other pieces of military equipment.

    The fuel cells consist of power that is generated from disposable cartridges of methanol and provide a reduction in the weight of power supplies and generate more environmentally friendly byproducts.

    The lightweight compact nature of the cells, some providing as much as 100 hours of sustainable power per cartridge, has proven to be an asset even in the most remote locations. This is in part due to the cartridges being able to be easily switched out without the loss of power.

    “In the past, we actually had power supplies and generators running out [in the field]; now we just have the fuel cells,” said Wolfgang Jab, OTC instrumentation engineer. Elaborating on the versatility of the fuel cells, Jab explained how the fuel cell can save space and weight because it would be unnecessary to have any additional cumbersome equipment to provide power.

    Currently OTC, which determines the suitability, survivability and effectiveness of new technology under realistic operating conditions, is testing several types of fuel cells. According to Jab, the cells were originally under development in Germany and were eventually redesigned in a more rugged form for Army field use and testing. OTC also continues to research other commercially available fuel cells under different configurations.

    The fuel cells, which act as self-contained generators, are being used as power supplies for communications and relay towers during the NIE, a series of operational tests and evaluations designed to integrate and mature the Army’s tactical network. NIE is taking place over a distance of more than 12,000 square kilometers.

    This self-sustainability makes the fuel cells ideal in surveillance and observation scenarios.

    OTC’s goal is to examine how the cells will act during combat conditions. Eventually, the fuel cells may be operated in the field in a number of ways, Jab explained. One of the applications that OTC is experimenting with is using the cells as a lightweight power pack for soldiers using the real-time tracking device vests and casualty assessment equipment that are also being tested during NIE.

    “OTC and our higher, ATEC are the only organizations within the Army and the Department of Defense that have these fuel cells,” said Jab.

    Fuel cells offer a number of advantages which can result in broader flexibility, longer missions, and fewer interruptions in power.

    Generators run by fuel cells also provide cleaner emissions and savings in time, material, and logistical costs, according to Jab.



    Date Taken: 05.25.2012
    Date Posted: 05.25.2012 12:47
    Story ID: 89015
    Location: EL PASO, TX, US 

    Web Views: 301
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