| Fuel Cell Technology | FAQ
- General Motors Corp. and the U.S. Army revealed a diesel
hybrid military pickup truck equipped with a fuel cell auxiliary
power unit (APU) that could become the model for the Army's
new fleet of 30,000 light tactical vehicles by the end of
diesel hybrid improves Army fuel consumption by 20 percent
over conventional diesels, reduces emissions and provides
troops with clean, reliable electrical power. These are
crucial elements in helping to transform the Army into a
lighter, more mobile military unit. And with fuel transportation
costs reaching up to $400 a gallon depending on training
or battlefield operations, the taxpayer savings could run
well into the millions of dollars.
fuel cell APU would replace the loud engine- and battery-based
stationary generators the Army now uses for field power,
thus enhancing the Army's "silent watch" capability,
or the ability to operate undetected by the enemy. Fuel
cells are much quieter than engine generators and do not
give off as much heat, making them less likely to be picked
up by enemy heat sensors. The fuel cell unit also familiarizes
the military with the next generation of commercially developed
fuel cell technology, so that military vehicles could be
powered by fuel cells within the next 10 years.
the heavy-duty, militarized version of the commercial Chevrolet
Silverado crew cab in a ceremony with Larry Burns, GM vice
president of research and development and planning, and
U.S. Army Major General N. Ross Thompson III, commanding
officer of the Army's Tank-automotive and Armaments Command.
prototype truck incorporates advanced diesel hybrid powertrain
technology and introduces the military to the flexibility
and security of fuel cell electric power," Burns
said. "This defense project is a great opportunity
to put large numbers of diesel hybrids and stationary fuel
cell units in operation in the interest of national security.
also anticipate that it will accelerate cost-effective and
durable civilian applications of hybrid-electric vehicles
and fuel cells. As an early customer, the military will
help drive down costs, increase our learnings, and spur
the eventual development of a hydrogen-based economy."
vehicle was designed and engineered by GM Military Truck
Operations, based in Troy, Mich., and incorporates technologies
from Allison Transmission Division of General Motors, GM's
Fuel Cell Activities organization, and GM's strategic fuel
cell alliance partner, Hydrogenics Corp., based in Mississauga,
Army will evaluate the prototype before establishing performance
and procurement criteria and opening the bid process. The
Army is expected to want 30,000 hybrids by the end of the
potential for fuel cell and diesel hybrid technologies are
of critical importance for the Army's next generation of
tactical vehicles, and General Motors will play a key leadership
role in the research and development efforts for transforming
the Army's mobility," said Dennis J. Wend, director
of the National Automotive Center, coordinator of the U.S.
Army's collaborative vehicle research and development.
order for the Army to win today's and tomorrow's battles
decisively, we must transform to a lighter, more mobile,
more fuel-efficient Army, an Army that is rapidly deployed
and sustainable anywhere in the world. The fuel cell auxiliary
power unit's quiet operation and low heat signature also
are vital elements in reducing the visibility of a deployed
a long, proud history of serving the U.S. Army's transportation
needs. The automaker has produced about 80,000 military
vehicles since the mid-1980s.
truck's military features include Raytheon First Responder
command and control equipment, infrared night vision camera
and GM's "extreme mobility package" to meet the
harshest off-road conditions and payload requirements.
Army owns a lot of trucks - nearly 250,000 of them, which
makes it one of the largest fleets in the nation,"
said Wend. "Three of top four fuel users in the battlefield
are trucks. That's why we need to bring the best and brightest
from industry, academia and government to engage in significantly
increasing the fuel efficiency of the our military and commercial
The heavy-duty, four-door pickup is powered by a 6.6-liter
Duramax Diesel V-8 engine, which generates 210 horsepower
and 545 lbs.-ft. of torque.
engine is mated to a parallel hybrid electric system for
improving urban engine emissions and fuel economy. The system
itself can increase fuel economy 25 percent to 40 percent
over conventional gasoline trucks.
hybrid system, under early development by GM for commercial
applications, uses a patented split power continuously variable
transmission (CVT) with integral electric motors and an
energy storage system, to deliver power efficiently to the
wheels. The lightweight nickel-metal hydride-based energy
storage system weighs a third less and is half the size
of lead-acid battery storage systems.
the diesel-electric hybrid powertrain can operate as a self-contained
generator, with the capability of providing up to 30kw "exportable"
DC and AC electricity for troop operations in the field.
This eliminates the need for separate, less efficient, bulky
motor-generator sets typically used.
reliable and quiet
The fuel cell APU, designed and built by Hydrogenics, is
a 5-kilowatt proton exchange membrane (PEM) regenerative
fuel cell system capable of producing electricity and hydrogen
in remote areas. Today's Army uses extensive surveillance
and communications electronics to accomplish its missions
on tomorrow's battlefields. These electronics must be powered
quietly for long periods of time in a manner that is undetectable
by the enemy.
the vehicle is driven, the PEM electrolyzer uses diesel
engine provided electricity to break down water into hydrogen
and oxygen, with the hydrogen stored for future use. Later,
with the engine off, the stored hydrogen, together with
oxygen from the air, is fed to the fuel cell to produce
electricity, returning the pure water as a byproduct, which
is stored to repeat the cycle.
regenerative APU thus produces its own hydrogen and the
Army does not need to add a new logistics fuel. Any additional
water is not a problem since water is already provided to
the troops and, in a difficult situation, the fuel cell-produced
water is drinkable.
only sound produced is that of quiet air intake fans, making
it perfect for use indoors, in confined spaces or where
minimal noise is required. In addition, the fuel cell generates
power at relatively low temperatures, removing the risk
of enemy detection by heat monitoring devices.
fuel cell unit delivers the same amount of power as a conventional
generator without broadcasting your presence,"
said Burns. "The energy density of hydrogen and
the efficiency of the fuel cell gives the same capability
of equal-sized batteries but with six to 10 times longer
operation, particularly in adverse temperature conditions.
The military recognizes these advantages as being key to
its mission-critical operations."
applications require absolute reliability and durability,
said Hydrogenics president and CEO Pierre Rivard.
is a valuable opportunity to demonstrate the capabilities
of a fuel cell system in what are sure to be very demanding
conditions," Rivard said. "We always
derive significant learnings from opportunities like this
and rapidly channel these learnings into our product development
initiatives. In this way we ensure that when it's time to
start producing this fuel cell technology in larger volume,
it is in fact the current best available technology."
The diesel hybrid truck is one of eight different militarized
prototypes based on the Silverado that GM Defense will deliver
to the Army later this year as part of the Commercially
Based Tactical Truck (COMBATT) program. The program leverages
commercial technology to reduce the cost of developing and
acquiring a light tactical vehicle, and provides the Army
with continuous technology improvement.
Diesel Hybrid Truck Vehicle Features
Duramax 6.6L (401 CID) Turbo Diesel - 210 hp @ 2750 rpm
and 545 lbs.-ft. of torque @ 1800 rpm
Transfer case 2-speed, 2.72 low range
Front suspension H.D. independent torsion bar, 4800 lbs.
with jounce shock system
Rear suspension semi-elliptical, leaf springs, load-leveling
air bags with jounce shock system
Shock absorbers Bilstein Heavy-Duty Gas-Filled
Skid plates under front differential, engine, electric transmission,
transfer case, fuel tank and torque arm
Brakes 4-wheel anti-lock, disc front and rear
Electrical system 12/24 volts
Cab 4-door crew cab
Tires 37 x 12.5R 17LT on-/off-road military tread
Wheels aluminum 17-inch
Rear steering Quadrasteer with 2-wheel and 4-wheel steer
Gross vehicle weight approx. 10,000 lbs.
unit split power Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)
with integral electric A/C induction motors
Batteries 300 volts NiMH battery system
Controls two hybrid controllers - two power inverter modules
Regen braking throttle lift and brake pedal apply
Power take-off mobile electric power - 60 Hz - 120/208 Vac,
three phase - 5kw mobile, 15kw stationary, 30kw peak
silent watch capable for limited duration
Fuel Cell System
cell power module Hydrogenics FCE-5G1.1 - 24 to 28 Volts,
6kw peak power
Fuel storage metal hydride low-pressure, high-density hydrogen
Electrolyzer Hydrogenics 91E stack, 24-30 volt range, 4kw
nominal input power, de-ionized water intake, 50 percent
H2 production efficiency
Overall system 5kw net output @ 30 percent "round trip"
efficiency, 15kwh / 3 hrs @ max power, <8 hrs recharge
24-30VDC input, 24-28VDC output
Fuel Economy Improvement
percent over conventional diesel systems; 25-40 percent
over conventional gasoline systems
Vehicle Performance Specifications
(based on untested prototype level hardware)
silent watch = up to 5 hrs. on a single charge
maximum continuous speed = 93 mph (150 km/h)
maximum 0-60mph (0-100km/h) acceleration time = 24 sec.
minimum static grade-ability (low range) = 60 percent
minimum side slope operability = 30 percent
structure watertight one-piece construction with 30:70 glass-to-resin
ratio, .200-inch thick fiberglass lamination, resin core
material sandwiched between two layers with gel-coat finish,
optional Kevlar material
Hardware one-piece double-walled doors, stainless steel
hinges, self-contained amenities, seven-pole junction box
w/ AC power, double-walled floor, interior climate control
Components Will-Burt's non-locking heavy-duty pneumatic
mast with 50 ft. extension, OSHKOSH 88A365 HID 24-volt lighting
system, Coleman Roughneck 13,500 BTUH rooftop air-conditioner,
external area surveillance infrared night-vision camera,
security touch pad, AC/DC refrigerator/freezer
Communications Raytheon First Responder Command and Communication
Equipment, virtual incident scene mapping, virtual weather
modeling, radio interoperability, wireless LAN plus video
link, cell phone, satellite uplink plus Globalstar
- front-mounted 12,000 lb. winch with remote control
and storage box
- combination bead lock and run-flat system
- fire extinguisher
- front and rear tie-downs
- tow pintle hook and trailer light hookup
- M16/M14 weapons brackets - 5 weapons
- heavy duty military bumpers with integrated front winch
mount, tie- downs, blackout markers, and grille guards
transmission, differentials, and transfer case vent filters
- Pioneer tool kit
- front and rear NATO slave start receptacles, 24-volt power
- vehicle mounted high-output auxiliary air compressor
- central tire inflation system with rapid deflate feature
- front smart bar
- lift kit with air assist springs
- heavy duty rear axle
- front helical gear limited slip differential
- front mesh seats
- tri-color camouflage paint
CELL UNIT REPLACES CONVENTIONAL GENERATOR
Unit Enhances Military's 'Silent Watch' Capability
5-kilowatt regenerative fuel cell auxiliary power unit (APU)
with its metal hydride hydrogen storage system is a key
component of General Motors Corp.'s diesel hybrid military
truck for the U.S. Army.
It opens the door to a new world of flexibility
and mobility for the military, and provides an important
step toward fuel cell commercialization.
Designed and built by GM's strategic fuel-cell
alliance partner, Hydrogenics Corp. - which is 24-percent
owned by GM, the APU provides a solution for the Army's
increasing electrical power needs in the field while enhancing
the military's ability to operate undetected by the enemy.
"This military application of fuel
cell technology has the potential to demonstrate valuable
benefits and capabilities to an organization that relies
on the best available technology for mission critical situations,"
said Pierre Rivard, Hydrogenics president and CEO. "We
are confident that our technology will demonstrate its strengths
in a compelling manner."
The hydrogen-powered APU produces electricity
quietly with a low temperature signature, zero emissions
and better efficiency than the conventional generators powered
by internal combustion engines, and provides six to 10 times
the endurance of battery-based systems of comparable power.
The unit is considerably more efficient in cold weather
than batteries and eliminates any issues related to toxicity
The Army increasingly relies on the operation
of surveillance, computer and communications electronics
in the battlefield. Typically, the electricity to power
this equipment must be provided by either operating the
engine or by storage batteries. In a "silent watch"
mode, the engine cannot be operated without the vehicle
being detected, and battery technology alone cannot provide
sufficient energy for the extended operating times required.
The APU also has lower maintenance costs
since fuel cell systems have very few moving parts. Internal
combustion engines are subject to considerable wear and
tear, and require regular operational checks, lubrication
and parts replacement.
The APU's design relies on the regenerative,
or reversible, properties of proton exchange membrane (PEM)
fuel cell technology. While the vehicle is driving, engine-produced
electricity operates a PEM electrolyzer unit, which breaks
down water into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen is stored
in a metal hydride solid material, GM's first application
of a solid-state storage device. When the vehicle's engine
is off, the hydrogen is combined with oxygen from the air
and fed to a fuel cell unit to generate electricity, with
water as a byproduct. The water is stored to repeat the
The storage unit provides enough gaseous
hydrogen to operate for three hours at a peak power of 5kw,
or five hours at an average output of 3kw. An external hydrogen
fuel supply is not required.
Hydrogen for the APU is stored at low pressure
and released at low temperature in a metal hydride container.
The metal hydride stores about 1 percent hydrogen gas by
weight. The hydrogen is stored very compactly in a space
smaller than if the hydrogen were liquefied.
In addition, if the metal hydride were punctured,
very little hydrogen would be released at ambient temperatures.
The combination of compact storage and inherent safety of
metal hydride makes this an ideal technology for military
The APU produces DC power to meet the specifications
of the particular applications. In the event that the application
requires AC power, the unit's power electronics can be designed
to offer this. Such design flexibility makes the APU suitable
for a broad range of applications, including backup power,
auxiliary automotive and marine power, and off-grid solar
Corp. (NASDAQ: HYGS and Toronto: HYG), headquartered in
Mississauga, Ontario, is a designer and manufacturer of
proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell systems for clean
DIESEL HYBRID/FUEL CELL APU: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q. What are the other trucks being considered
as part of the U.S. Army's COMBATT program?
A. GM Defense will deliver a portfolio of eight militarized
prototypes based on the commercial Silverado. In addition
to the diesel hybrid, the other vehicles include:
One gasoline-electric parallel hybrid truck,
powered by a 5.3-liter Vortec V-8 engine. The four-wheel-drive,
crew cab pickup has a 2.4 kilowatt electric, 110-volt outlets
for exportable power, and provides up to 12 percent better
fuel economy over a straight gasoline-powered pickup.
Two 1500 heavy-duty crew cab pickups, powered
by 6.0-liter Vortec V-8s. The four-wheel-drive vehicles
also are equipped with the Quadrasteer and an enhanced mobility
package for off-road driving.
Two 2500 heavy-duty crew cab pickups, powered
by 6.6-liter Duramax Diesel V-8s. The four-wheel-drive trucks
also are outfitted for severe off-road conditions.
Two 2500 heavy-duty crew cab pickups, powered
by 6.6-liter Duramax Diesel V-8s. These four-wheel-drive
trucks have extreme off-road capability.
Q. Any plans to produce any of these vehicles for civilian
A. GM already sells the base trucks and intends to offer
gasoline-electric parallel hybrid trucks later in 2003 as
a 2004 model year product. Of course, some modifications
of the commercial product are desired by the military customer.
Q. When will the trucks be delivered to
A. The trucks will be delivered in the third- or fourth-quarter
Q. Has GM been awarded a contract to build
a new fleet of light tactical vehicles?
A. No. The bid process hasn't begun yet. The Army will evaluate
the vehicles before establishing the procurement requirements.
Q. What is COMBATT an acronym for?
A. COMmercially BAsed Tactical Truck. The COMBATT program
aims to adapt a modified commercial pickup truck to perform
some missions assigned to light tactical vehicles. It leverages
commercial technology to reduce the cost of developing and
acquiring a light tactical vehicle.
Other goals of the program include taking
advantage of the high-volume commercial production lines;
cost reduction of spares via commercial distribution; incorporating
innovative procurement concepts, such as fleet leasing and
contract logistical support; and providing continuous improvement
via automotive technology at no cost to the Army.
Q. Does the fuel cell auxiliary power unit
(APU) use a GM fuel cell stack?
A. No, but future vehicles will.
Q. Is the fuel cell APU an existing Hydrogenics
A. Fuel cell APU technology is in the product development
stage at Hydrogenics. This particular unit was built especially
for the U.S. Army TACOM (Tank-automotive and Armaments Command)
in Warren, Mich. TACOM asked GM to integrate it into a diesel
Q. How much power does the fuel cell APU
A. It produces 5 kilowatts of electricity, which is roughly
enough to power a typical single-family house.
Q. Is a hydride storage system suitable
for automotive applications?
A. Yes, but not at the current level of technology. Hydrides
are still too heavy and expensive for an automotive application.
Q. Isn't Hydrogenics Corp. a partner of
A. Yes. Hydrogenics is one of GM's strategic fuel cell partners.
GM has a 24-percent stake in Hydrogenics and has licensed
some of its fuel cell technology to Hydrogenics for certain
civilian and military applications.
Q. What vehicles has GM provided to the
Defense Department in the past?
A. GM has a long history as a provider of reliable transportation
products and components to the U.S. government. In addition
to more than 100,000 postal vehicles in use today by the
U.S. Postal Service, the Defense Department has purchased
thousands of cars and trucks for military use. The principal
commercial utility cargo vehicle used by the Army today
is the GM truck. Every HMMWV has a GM diesel engine and
Hydra-Matic transmission. The standard large army trucks
also have Allison transmissions, as does the M-1 tank and
most other Army-tracked vehicles, except for the Bradley.