US Army Unveils Truck With Ballard Fuel Cell APU

March 03, 2003 by Jeff Shepard

The United States Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command's National Automotive Center (NAC) introduced a Class 8 Freightliner truck with a prototype, liquid-fueled, roadworthy, fuel cell auxiliary power unit (APU) at the Society of Automotive Engineers 2003 World Congress in Detroit. The system uses a fuel cell stack and reforming technologies from Ballard Power Systems Inc. (Vancouver, BC) to generate electricity for onboard demands and power external devices.

The 5kW APU is mounted on the driver's side of the truck. An onboard power management system delivers electricity to the truck's systems or exports it off the vehicle as standard household power. The current APU is fueled with a mixture of methanol and water, and further development will enable it to use ultra-low, sulfur commercial diesel fuel. The fuel cell APU is expected to reduce the average usage of more than 2,000 gallons of fuel in a year, while reducing emissions and noise.

"The Army continues to take a leadership role in advancing fuel cell technologies," said Dennis Wend, executive director of the NAC. "With our partners Freightliner, Ballard and the University of Alabama, we have developed a fuel cell APU that shows an alternative for powering auxiliary devices on a parked heavy-duty truck instead of idling the engine. This technology has great potential benefits to the military and commercial fields by increasing comfort and efficiency of heavy-duty trucks while reducing their environmental impact."