Chevrolet is making a hydrogen-powered truck for the US Army

When it comes to sustainable transport, it can be pretty hard for people to know which car to go for. I’ve driven electric cars such as the Nissan Leaf, hybrid cars such as the BMW i8 and hydrogen cars such as the Hyundai ix35 – but deciding which one to stick with isn’t the easiest task. It seems the US Army is going through the same problem, and that’s why it’s decided to trial a brand-new hydrogen-powered Chevrolet pick-up truck.

Chevrolet is making a hydrogen-powered truck for the US Army

Called the Colorado ZH2, the new pick-up truck is a joint project between General Motors and the US Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center, and is based on a normal, road-going Chevy Colorado. To make it suitable for the US Army, engineers have reinforced the car’s chassis for actual all-terrain use, while the engine compartment has also been modified to make way for its hydrogen fuel-cell powertrain.

So what is the US Army testing it for? For the past few years, the military has looked at new power sources with interest – and on second thought it’s easy to see why. Cleaner power sources such as fuel cells and hydrogen don’t require large amounts of fuel to be carried around, and they’re also cleaner and quieter when in use.

It makes sense, then, that the US Army is evaluating the benefits of the new fuel-cell tech, from “near-silent operation” and “reduced acoustic and thermal signatures,” to better fuel consumption and possible uses of water waste products.chevy_truck_back

In an interview, GM executive director of global fuel cell activities, Charlie Freese, explained how the benefits of fuel cell extend to more than stealthy, efficient transport. “One of the things we started testing about ten years ago is this exportable power take-off,” said Freese. “Whether you’re using the vehicle in a site where you have no access to plug-in power, or if you’re a camper, or if you’re in this military environment, the ability to export 25kW continuous, or up to 50kW at its peak, is a really great functionality that comes out of this fuel-cell system.”

Furthermore, with fuel-cell tech already being tested across other areas of the military, it’s possible fuel-cell powertrains could be standardised – so the same parts in a Jeep will be used in a speed boat or submarine for example. The result? Engineers would only need to be trained once, yet have the ability to fix several vehicles – and the money spent on spare parts would be reduced, too.

“You can imagine when you’re supporting them in the field, and you have a deep cache of spare parts,” Freese said. “I could be wrong, but I’m not so sure I could imagine taking the spare parts out of a Navy depot and immediately servicing an army vehicle, but with this [hydrogen fuel-cell tech] you could actually do that.”

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