ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- Army engineers demonstrated the possibility of a more fuel-efficient heavy-vehicle fleet at the Quartermaster Symposium held at Fort Lee, Va. June 11-15.

Engineers from the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command's communications-electronics center, or CERDEC, attended the symposium to demonstrate the Tactical Idle Reduction, or TIR, for Heavy Tactical Vehicles. The TIR demonstration illustrated the fuel that could be saved while large vehicles idle.

"The TIR consists of a 5 kilowatt auxiliary power unit, or APU, and an environmental control unit, or ECU," said Jonathan Cristiani of CERDEC's Command, Power and Integration Directorate. Rather than using the engine to power electrical units within the vehicle's cab when the vehicle is idling, the APU and ECU provide power, he said.

In the demonstration, the TIR was integrated with a M915A line haul truck. Based on operational data of power consumption and idling times from Iraq and Afghanistan, the M915A truck consumes 1 gallon of fuel per hour while idling. The TIR consumes 0.6 gallons per hour under full load, when the ECU is running on high and all electrical loads in the truck's cab are powered.

"The TIR system could conservatively save 870 gallons per year per M915 vehicle," said Cristiani. Based on the entire fleet of M915s, the fuel saved could amount to at least 700,000 gallons a year.

Beyond direct fuel savings, the TIR system has other benefits. Diverting use of the primary engine during idle will reduce wear on the engine. This could result in potentially less engine maintenance and a reduction in the number of early failures of such vehicles, explained Cristiani.

The project is a result of the partnership formed in 2007 between CP&I, the Product Manager Heavy Tactical Vehicle and the Tank and Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center. It was funded by the Office of the Secretary of Defense under the Technology Transition Initiative program.

Contractors Red Dot and Impco Ecotrans facilitated the development of TIR, bringing to the project experience with after-market environmental control products for military vehicles such as the up-armored HMMWV and idle control systems for commercial trucks.

While there are no immediate plans to adapt the TIR system to other vehicles, it could be readily applied to other vehicles in the HTV fleet.

"CP&I has many years of experience developing, demonstrating and transitioning stand-alone and platform-integrated power generation and environmental control capabilities for a variety of customers and applications," said Cristiani. "The Heavy Equipment Transporter M1070 is well known for excessive idling and resultant premature failures. It may be a strong candidate for the TIR capability as well."