In a push toward creating a greener and more efficient military, the Pentagon has announced the opening of a new Army Laboratory, located in Warren Michigan, assigned with the task of creating new fuel cells and hybrid systems for combat vehicles.
Officials say the objective in opening the lab was not solely based on creating a more eco-friendly military, but also to improve the overall fighting capabilities of combat vehicles.
The facility, referred to as the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) is comprised of eight separate labs where research and testing will be conducted on electrical systems, heating and cooling components, fuel cells, hybrid electric power trains and advanced batteries.
Each lab will allow researchers to recreate a multitude of environmental conditions for testing, exposing the vehicles to temperatures ranging from 60 degrees below zero to 160 degrees and subjecting the vehicles to winds up to 60 mph.
1,500 scientists, researchers, engineers, and others are currently employed at TARDEC and about another 150 will soon be hired and assigned to start work in the labs.
According to military officials, the opening of the lab coincides with a Pentagon initiative of cutting back on dependence on traditional energy and generating renewable energy on military bases by 2025 equal to that of three nuclear power plants.
Currently the military consumes 90 percent of all the energy used by the federal government, accounting for about 2 percent of all U.S. energy consumption. According to military officials, reducing reliance on fossil fuels will make the military more efficient and save lives, mentioning that a majority of the casualties experienced in Iraq and Afghanistan involved convoys hauling fuel to battle areas.
Officials said production of energy on military bases makes them less dependent on the commercial grid, helping them serve their national security mission. The military has announced a goal of generating 3 gigawatts of electricity, enough energy to power roughly 2 million homes, from renewable sources located on Army, Air Force, and Naval bases.
The Energy Department is currently holding a funding competition worth $30 million to develop new types of batteries and other energy storage devices to reduce the need for refueling during combat, cut operation and maintenance costs, and make Navy ships more efficient.
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