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Energy Efficiency Army showcases new diesel electric hybrid vehicle (CERV) at Indy 500

Published on May 29th, 2011 | by Tina Casey

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Army’s New Diesel-Electric Hybrid Vehicle Shines at Indy 500



Army showcases new diesel electric hybrid vehicle (CERV) at Indy 500A light rain was falling over the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last Friday (according to the Daily Trackside Report) but that didn’t stop the Army’s rather awkward looking but fuel efficient diesel-electric hybrid Clandestine Extended Range Vehicle (CERV) from going out for a demonstration spin. The CERV has been on display at the track as part of the buildup to the 100th running of the Indy 500. It was featured at the track’s Clean Tech Day earlier this month alongside other green vehicle technologies and events including the American Solar Challenge and Purdue University’s new evGrandPrix.

Fuel Efficiency a Life or Death Issue for the U.S. Army

The U.S. military has become increasingly vocal about the need to transition national defense out of  fossil fuels – not just foreign fossil fuels, but all fossil fuels. Fossil fuel transportation in combat zones costs money and lives, aside from creating logistical problems related to storage and spill response. The environmental risk posed by domestic fossil fuel harvesting is also in direct conflict with the military’s evolving environmental stewardship mission — something to keep in mind as the new shale oil boom in Texas gathers steam.

The Diesel-Electric CERV

The CERV made its debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last year. The idea is to achieve the high performance required by reconnaissance and surveillance missions while increasing fuel efficiency, so while the CERV can crank up to 80 mph and climb grades of 60%, it uses about 25% less fuel than a similar vehicle. The vehicle was developed by the Army’s Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center in partnership with Quantum Fuel Systems Worldwide, which developed the hybrid electric powertrain.

The Army and the Indy 500

You could say it’s ironic that two organizations associated with enormous carbon footprints – the military and motor racing – have paired up to showcase green technology, but that would be missing the point.  These are also two iconic American organizations, both of which are taking significant strides to demonstrate lower-emission technologies and push them into mainstream use. Sustainability has come a very long way since the days when a few people would get together and form an ad hoc neighborhood recycling group. When you can reach millions, then you’re talking.

Image: U.S. Army CERV diesel-electric hybrid courtesy U.S. Army.

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About the Author

Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.



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  • Les54tom

    The it’ll-never-work mentality is alive and well. There’s always resistance to change.
    Still, very promising news on the progress being made. In any event, it works and is a needed national security solution. I see the possibility for spin-offs in the civilian sector coming as well.
    We’ve improved on transportion in so many ways in our history. This is another on-going evolution.
    Always will be nay-sayers. Fortunately, there are people who focus on getting things done.

  • COL Alfred M. Diaz, USA (ret)

    A nice goal, but extremely impractical.  The US armed forces will remain dependent upon fossil fuels for several decades.

    • Ross

      Probably true, but that’s no reason not to start figuring out solutions now.

    • Anonymous

       They will rely on fossil fuels only as long as there are fossil fuels to rely upon. 
      Why any country would continue to rely upon a source of energy that is controlled by others is beyond me. 

      • Anonymous

        This is the exact reason why the military is exploring alternative energy sources. It is for strategic reasons. NOT for green reasons. NOT for clean reasons. NOT for global warming reasons. It’s done because God screwed up and put our oil under middle eastern countries. So we’ll be fighting war after war in order to get at it. Better to fight such a war when you are not so reliant on that oil.

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