The US military is serious about reducing its dependence on traditional fuel sources. Case in point: the FED solar and hybrid Humvees that will burn 70 per cent less fuel than traditional armoured troop transports.
The Fuel Efficient Ground Vehicle Demonstrator (FED) is currently under development in Warren, MI by the U.S. Army Tank and Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Command (TARDEC) and consists of two prototypes, "FED Alpha" and "FED Bravo." The FED Alpha employs a solar panel mounted on the rear hatch to power its electrical systems, as well as a Cummins turbo-charged 4-cylinder 200-horsepower diesel engine, six-speed automatic transmission, and low-rolling resistance tires. These innovations provide the same performance as a conventional Humvee but at a 70 per cent fuel savings.
Heck, the tires alone reduce fuel consumption by seven per cent. If they were to be installed on the Army's full Humvee fleet, the military would save about $US45 million a year. The FED Alpha also features an aluminium frame, a custom differential with non-geared hubs (to reduce friction), and a feedback system in the gas pedal that vibrates when the FED exceeds its optimal fuel efficiency speed.
Details are still scarce on the Bravo model — the Army has yet to declassify that information — but Army spokespeople have said that it will be a plug-in hybrid akin to a Chevy Volt. Carl Johnson, team leader of the FED program, also told Corp Magazine that the development team used a Monster Garage approach for the design,
We brought in a whole raft of subject matter experts from the military, from industry and academia. We sat around a room for a week and looked at technologies that could increase fuel efficiencies. We went away and came back after a month and put some of those technologies into concepts, the ones we thought would be the most fuel efficient. We ran those concepts through our modelling and simulations here at TARDEC and determined that the variable-hybrid-electric was the most fuel-efficient of all those concepts.
It's not certain that either of these concepts will transfer into an actual, single vehicle. In all likelihood, their technological advances will be applied to other vehicle systems. "Hopefully the technology on here can get back into the force," said Steve Kramer, an engineer with TARDEC. [Inhabitat - US Army - Corp Magazine - TARDEC]