After months of testing and development, GM handed over its Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle to the U.S. Army and its R&D arm TARDEC (Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center). There, it will visit several locations across the U.S. to garner feedback from military personnel to gauge the powertrain’s potential use in future vehicles.
“What we’re doing through this effort is understanding the full potential of the technology,” said Dr. Paul Rogers, director of TARDEC. “As you can see here, in this form, it’s phenomenal. Now what we want to do is take a look at the military utility of it.”
"It" is the Colorado ZH2, first unveiled back in October as a non-running prototype. Built on a stretched and heavily modified midsize pickup truck chassis from the Colorado ZR2, the ZH2 stands over 6 1/2 feet tall and is more than 7 feet wide. The hydrogen fuel cell and electric motor’s almost-silent operation and exportable power — it can also supply power to external electrical equipment without a noisy generator — have several possible applications on the battlefield; think special operations and recon missions.
A byproduct of hydrogen fuel cells is water — critical on the battlefield. Rogers says the water isn't drinkable, but it can be used for washing, cleaning, shaving and other hygiene activities.
Charlie Freese, executive director of GM's Global Fuel Cell Activities, said the fuel cell powertrain they are working on for production is about half the size of the unit in the ZH2 while still producing about the same amount of power.