The Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 Fuel Cell Previews a Future of Military Mobility

When we consider about troops vehicles, tanks, MRAPs, and Humvees come to mind. Not a Chevrolet Colorado. And we unequivocally don’t consider about hydrogen fuel-cell technology. Nonetheless, a special kind of Colorado, a ZH2 antecedent off-roader pleasantness of a Army’s Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC), will shortly be in a hands of a Army and Marines. It was on arrangement during a 2017 Detroit automobile show and starting in May, active avocation use members will start contrast a Colorado ZH2 in training missions to weigh a viability and use-case of fuel-cell record on a battlefield.

Riding on a stretched Colorado ZR2 chassis with a somewhat mutated body, a ZH2 uses a “Gen 0” 93-kW fuel-cell powertrain formerly seen in a 2007 Chevrolet Equinox. It will go 142 miles before using dry, though a antecedent is some-more built for specific-use missions over generally severe terrain, done probable by a 37-inch BF Goodrich tires, carried suspension, and softened proceed and depart angles. The lorry has a branch radius of underneath 25 feet, and a two-speed send box is ideal for rock-crawling, while a Multimatic dampers (also used on a Camaro Z/28) minimize oppressive impacts and say stability.

Since a Gen 0 powertrain, GM has left by dual some-more gradually some-more fit and modernized versions. Gen 2 is some-more than 280 pounds lighter than Gen 0, it’s some-more compact, and it will run for 150,000 miles instead of 30,000. The categorical reason a ZH2 antecedent uses a Gen 0 complement is that a powertrain has a extraction of millions of miles of contrast underneath a belt, and trustworthiness is a name of a diversion when lives are on a line.

The ZH2 is a latest in a partnership between TARDEC and General Motors, that goes behind utterly a ways. Brian Butrico, owners of a BMW M Coupe we featured in new Collectible Classic, is Chief Engineer and Program Manager on a ZH2 project, and energetically tells us about some astonishing ways fuel-cell powertrains could advantage a U.S. armed services. “For starters, a on-board fuel cells would be ideal appetite sources for anything from on-site hospitals to remote weaponry, comms, unequivocally whatever they need,” he says. “But a advantages don’t stop there.”

Compared to a diesel engine, a Colorado ZH2 runs during near-silent volumes, creation it fascinating for growth operations. The feverishness signature is some-more than 10 times reduce than that of an inner explosion engine as well, creation a ZH2 easier to censor from thermal scanners. The evident circle torque is ideal for low-speed stone crawling as well, while a 60 percent rebate in tools than a allied inner explosion engine means fewer things can fail. Perhaps many engaging is that a fuel dungeon complement produces 1-3 gallons of H2O per hour as a by-product, that can be a life-saving item in remote locations or when cut off from resources.

I was penetrating to find out a hurdles of appropriation hydrogen fuel for such a car out in a museum of war, and a answer is a unstable hydrogen reformer. Right now there are existent technologies that can modify gasoline or propane or many other fuel sources into serviceable hydrogen, though a Army is operative to rise a multi-fuel hydrogen reformer that could take a place of several machines. To assign a cells, it’s probable to use chief appetite or grid energy, according to Butrico.

Sitting inside a Colorado ZH2 feels for a many partial like any other Colorado, save for a stripped-out back seating area and 4 Recaro seats. There isn’t many in a approach of storage, though according to TARDEC executive Dr. Paul Rogers, whatever destiny car this powertrain would be potentially used in would be custom-designed for optimized interior volume and ergonomics. Compared to what we see on this prototype, any critical troops car would need loads of additional armor and underbody protection. “What’s good about a fuel-cell powertrain is that there’s no need for a normal grille,” says Rogers. “That removes one of a many exposed areas on a vehicle, definition we don’t have to worry about shop-worn radiators.”

The Colorado ZH2 antecedent was fabricated during a GM Tech Center in Warren, Michigan. The partnership between General Motors and TARDEC has a intensity to fast urge a speed during that TARDEC can operative and rise prototypes.

After a engineering proviso is finalized in April, infantry, special forces, airborne, and some-more will have a possibility to give their feedback to TARDEC and GM. The initial on-site training missions will be formed out of Fort Bragg, followed by Fort Benning, Fort Carson, and afterwards Marine Base Quantico.

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