The pursuit of energy efficiency has led the US Army from biofuels to algae and now to hybrid-electric vehicles. Following the Clandestine Extended Range Vehicle's demonstration at the Chicago Auto Show, army-technology.com uncovers what makes the CERV tick.
With the cost of diesel and fuel consumption both spiraling, the world's armed forces have been quick to support any emerging technologies capable of lessening their reliance on fossil fuels.
In an attempt to display the significant strides taken by the US Armed Forces to become more environmentally friendly and efficient, the US Army's Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) displayed its Clandestine Extended Range Vehicle, the highly regarded, highly efficient hybrid vehicle co-developed with Quantum Technologies.
Demonstrated at the 2012 Chicago Auto Show, the CERV has been labeled as one of the "greenest technologies" currently in development.
Driving environmentally-friendly technology forward
The vehicle itself is powered using a diesel hybrid-electric powertrain, developed by Quantum, billed by the company as capable of saving taxpayer dollars and soldiers' lives.
In comparison to vehicles of similar capabilities, the CERV uses 25% less fuel. JP-8 fuel is used in conjunction with the hybrid electric drive system, providing a cost-effective and eco-efficient means of transportation.
The CERV's top speed registers at a swift 80mph courtesy of its light weight chassis, and it is capable of a silent run of approximately eight miles. The vehicle can also traverse hills of 60% grades and has a range of 600 miles with external fuel sources, and 300 miles through internal fuel sources.
The Q-Force diesel hybrid-electric technology and light weight chassis combine to produce a torque in excess of 5,000 foot-pounds.
Quantum Technologies president and CEO Alan Niedzwiecki has been quick to herald not only the energy efficiency demonstrated by the CERV, but its operational versatility.
"Our new generation powertrains are ideal to support tactical operations in both urban and un-urban environments across the broad range of US military operations and terrain profiles, for direct action, reconnaissance and unconventional warfare and counter terrorism," said Niedzwiecki.
Quick, yet unarmoured
The CERV is, however, completely unarmoured.
Weighing just 2,267kg, the vehicle has been designed for speed of operation rather than protection of operators and, as such, is suitable for missions including reconnaissance, targeting and rescue. Combining the vehicle's quick operation and silent capabilities, stealth is the CERV's first and only line of defence.
This hasn't stopped the US Army from mounting a machine gun to its frame, though. A unique weapons ring has been designed for the CERV, coming equipped with a mounted 12.7mm machine gun for use when the situation requires it.
What the CERV may lack in protection, however, it more than makes up for in adaptability. Its light weight enables the vehicle to be attached to and lifted from V22 Osprey aircraft, dramatically increasing its versatility and use to soldiers operating in vast environments.
To date, the CERV is the only hybrid vehicle to have this airlift capability, representing a significant development in how hybrid vehicles are perceived for future frontline operations.
The technology at the centre of the CERV, its all-wheel-drive diesel hybrid propulsion system, hasn't exactly been cheap to develop, however. Federal financing amounting to approximately $14bn for dual-use advanced technology has contributed towards its development.
Still in its prototype phase, the CERV is undergoing testing throughout the US in anticipation of the completion of the US Army's Ground Systems Power and Energy Lab, due to open on April 11, 2012.