The U. S. Department of Defense (DoD) has been testing prototype hydrogen fuel cells, both stationary and mobile, for years now to see if they are up to the challenge of fitting into the military’s goals. All of this testing has finally paid off. The DoD is now recommending that they buy commercial fuel cells for a number of stationary and vehicle applications.
The DoD has released a study titled, “Beyond Demonstration: A White Paper on the Role of Fuel Cells in the Department of Defense’s Energy Strategy”.
According to the press release, “The DOD assessment validates technological and commercial progress made to date by developers of fuel cell technology, recommending that the U.S. Department of Defense proactively evaluate and acquire fuel cell systems for distributed power generation, backup power, material handling equipment, ground support equipment and unmanned vehicles.”
In the first three of these areas the DoD has let the private sector take the lead on testing of fuel cell powered equipment. On the last, unmanned vehicles, the DoD has done its own independent research.
For distributed power generation, the DoD cites companies like Google, Walmart, Whole Foods, eBay, FirstEnergy, and Toyota leading the charge for successful testing. For backup power, the DoD cites Verizon, Wind Mobile, AT&T Wireless, Motorola, T-Mobile, and Sprint as early adopters to test their fuel cell powered equipment.
For material handling equipment and ground support, the DoD cites Walmart, Coca-Cola, Whole Foods, FedEx, BMW and Sysco as not only early adopters of testing prototypes but also early adopters of buying commercial fuel cell vehicles as I’ve pointed out on my many posts about fuel cell forklifts.
For unmanned vehicles testing the DoD has done a lot of its own work in collaboration with private companies such as Boeing for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s) and Adaptive Materials for unmanned ground vehicles.
The U. S. DoD has come to the conclusion after years of either its own testing or following the private sector testing of fuel cells in different applications that fuel cells are now ready for prime time commercialization within the military setting. The DoD has decided that hydrogen fuel cells provide more power, durability, energy and cost savings than other comparable technology.
And as the military starts a widespread rollout of hydrogen fuel cells in many different applications including vehicles and transportation, so will go the American public as well.