The US Army has begun construction of the Ground Systems Power and Energy Laboratory (GSPEL), a new testing facility for military ground vehicles.

The 30,000ft² fully integrated test facility will evaluate military vehicles ranging from high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles to heavy combat military tanks with hybrid-electric and fuel-cell configurations.

Independent research and development organisation, Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Texas has been contracted by the army to provide engineering support services for GSPEL.

SwRI will develop the required equipment and facility specifications for the state-of-the-art laboratory.

GSPEL will contain eight engineering laboratories to evaluate hybrid electric components, advanced energy storage devices, fuel cells, heat exchangers and air filtration systems.

The laboratory will also be equipped to test vehicle systems and components including engines, transmissions, axles, electric motors, batteries, ultracapacitors, engine auxiliary systems, air filters and radiators.

US Army chief scientist Dr Thomas Killion said that the Ground Systems Power and Energy Laboratory will have the test equipment and engineering know-how to work at unprecedented levels.

“Upon completion, this facility will not only dramatically reduce component and vehicle testing time in demanding military conditions, but also give the army the capability to exploit integration of new power and energy technologies for a wide variety of new military vehicles,” Killion said.

Equipment features include 11VAC electrically regenerative dynamometers, three power supplies of extremely high voltage, a full-size vehicle chamber with environmental controls for temperature, humidity and solar simulation, a large calorimeter for testing radiators, engine coolers and transmission coolers.