By Maj. Douglas Halleaux (Army National Guard)October 30, 2017
The latest concept in Hydrogen Fuel Cell-based propulsion was on display at Fort Eustis, Virginia, this month, in the form of the ZH2, a Chevrolet Colorado-based Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle. The ZH2 is the latest in the relationship between the automotive industry and TARDEC, the Army's Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center.
Senior leaders from TRADOC, the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command and ARCIC, the Army Capabilities Integration Center saw firsthand what this vehicle may mean for future operations. The ZH2 is a technology demonstrator that the Army R&D center has been putting in the hands of select Soldiers throughout the past year, collecting feedback on the value of the technology and how it might be employed.
Major General Robert "Bo" Dyess, Director of ARCIC, had an opportunity to drive the ZH2 himself.
Maj. Gen. Robert "Bo" Dyess: "It's very quiet; when I was standing there, I heard a twig snap behind me in the woods and I thought it was a deer sneaking up on us, and I turned around and found it was the vehicle that had come around from behind the woods."
Hydrogen Fuel Cell vehicles work by generating electricity from compressed hydrogen gas, which is then used to power electric drive motors. Without combustion, the vehicles are as quiet as plug-in electric counterparts without the challenge of long battery recharge times.
Dyess: "Being very quiet, is a big plus; being very powerful is a big plus."
More than the vehicle, however, is the infrastructure behind getting Hydrogen to where it would be needed with vehicles like these. TARDEC also brought its tactical hydrogen generation capabilities, a mobile reformer and fuel station, the other portion of the promising vehicle technology.
Dyess: "But it's also the fueling part and the distribution part that I want to work on as well, so I'm glad to see both the steam reformer here as well as the fill-in station to be able to work on this."
TARDEC will continue the ZH2 Soldier feedback assessments through Spring, 2018. For U.S. Army Public Affairs, I'm Doug Halleaux.