Many society-changing technologies that we now take for granted, like GPS, microwaves, and even duct tape, were originally invented for use by America’s military. These once cutting-edge technologies are now so prevalent we can hardly imagine living without them. Could GM’s hydrogen fuel cell research pact with the U.S. Army help push hydrogen to the forefront of alternative fuel use?
General Motors and the Army’s TARDEC research facility have embarked on a joint, five-year effort to research the feasibility and durability of hydrogen fuel cells for battlefield use. TARDEC has been especially keen on developing hybrid tanks and alternative fuel battle vehicles, and with GM’s labs just 20 miles away, the hope is that these two research powerhouses can accomplish more together than either would alone.
The irony of a zero-emissions war machine aside, a GM-Army partnership could bear tangible fruits, especially with the increased interest in hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. GM has applied for more fuel cell-related patents than any other company in the past decade, and has more than 100 hydrogen-powered test vehicles in circulation across the country.
Meanwhile the Army’s insistence on durable, reliable powertrains and deep pockets could help disperse the substantial research costs that hydrogen fuel cells demand. GM, Toyota, and other automakers have pledged to sell hydrogen fuel cell vehicles by 2020 at the latest, and a partnership with Uncle Sam might give the General a big leg up when these clean cars start rolling off of assembly lines.