In November 2015, General Motors and the United States Army announced that they were developing a new type of fuel cell. Details about the project remain scarce, but GM and the Army have allowed some information to reach the press. The small amount known about the project shows that it may offer an innovative fuel-cell that will benefit the military in several ways.
Some Benefits of Hydrogen Fuel Cells
Hydrogen fuel cells offer several benefits over engines that burn gasoline. Even though details aren’t available, you can expect the new technology to:
- Operate silently to maintain stealth.
- Generate electricity to power computers and other equipment in the field
- Require little maintenance, as hydrogen fuel cells don’t have moving parts
- Refuel within minutes
- Create water as a byproduct, which the military can use in low-water and desert environments
In comparison, gasoline-fueled engines are noisy and inefficient. If the military can get hydrogen fuel cell technology to work well in combat vehicles, it could change the way that soldiers operate in the field.
Improved fuel cell technology will curb harmful emissions. The Army probably doesn’t emphasize this benefit since it needs to think about protecting soldiers instead of saving the environment. By contributing to the technology’s development, though, the military could improve fuel cells for consumer vehicles. In the long run, reduced emissions could significantly impact the world.
Joining Forces to Build New Technology
General Motors and the Army stand to learn a lot by collaborating on this project. The car manufacturer will potentially learn how well its fuel cells work in a variety of environments, including inhospitable places with high temperatures and rocket terrains. Feedback from the Army could help General Monitors address issues that limit existing fuel cell technology.
In return, the Army gets to use GM’s latest technology without having to pay for its own research and development. Instead of spending money and time reinventing the new fuel cell concept, the military chose to work with an American company that has already explored this area of science.
Hydrogen Fuel Cells at Home
The vehicles General Motors and the Army built together are based on the Chevrolet Colorado. Unfortunately, you won’t find the new fuel cell concept at your local dealership anytime soon. Not surprisingly, the military hasn’t released much information about the new technology. Part of the agreement probably requires GM to stay quiet as well.
While it’s always possible that GM will eventually use some new knowledge in vehicles designed for the consumer market, it will take years for that to happen. By the time this technology reaches consumers, though, it should work extremely well. If a fuel cell can thrive on the battlefield, then it can certainly withstand your daily commute.
General Motors and the U.S. Army plan to unveil the new fuel-cell technology in October. Until then, no one will know exactly how the engines work. Look forward to learning more about the project this fall.