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Old 16th Jul 2017, 15:44   #1 (permalink)
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Electric vehicles in the military

As the world moves towards electric vehicles, how about the military? Will deployed forces have to establish a generator park to recharge the vehicles? All very well recharging 'day-running' vehicles, but what of those deployed forward?

Would mobile recharging vehicles have to deploy as well as a replacement for bowsers and tankers?
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Old 16th Jul 2017, 16:08   #2 (permalink)
 
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Had a look at a Prius recently?
It's all about drag reduction.
All Terrain Vehicles aren't known for their amazing fuel mileage.
Let alone when you add tons of armor. Getting even a light truck to move on electric power will take a stupid amount.

Now electric weapons is a different story.
l@ser anti missile batteries and electromagnetic cannons.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=1dHZg9XsKDQ
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Old 16th Jul 2017, 16:23   #3 (permalink)
 
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Batteries, and power in general, is termed a "critical enabling technology". Historically, the subject is poorly managed in MoD. For example, 10 years ago the focus was on providing enough man-portable power to last a 48-hour dismounted mission. MoD let a 3-year R&D contract to produce a prototype, ignoring the fact one bidder produced an old production model that more than met the specification. The winner gave up after 2 years. Faced with that scenario, and as B2N2 says, we are a long way away.

The other determining factor is the old "battlefield fuel" chestnut, whereby our allies try to achieve interoperability, and share resources; despite perpetual failure to agree such strategies. We have international committees up the ying yang who debate this, seemingly taking two steps back every time they meet. We have people in London who monitor use of the word "interoperability" and actively prevent its use in programme titles or plans. Pontius, you chose a hot potato!
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Old 16th Jul 2017, 16:31   #4 (permalink)
 
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....Pontius, you chose a hot potato!

Electrically heated?
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Old 16th Jul 2017, 16:32   #5 (permalink)
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Tuc, I am reminded of the question in 1990 "who is considering the long term future of the navigator branch?" This was asked by the SO1 responsible for postings in said branch

I ask as this is tomorrow's question that will carry no solutions or brownie points for today's staffer or department head. It is also definitely a Jointery issue with the Army no doubt in a position to demand lead authority.

Rather than Toyota, Tesla might be better placed to profit. B2N2, I suspected as much.
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Old 16th Jul 2017, 16:44   #6 (permalink)
 
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JAJ Excellent.

PN The issue will lie with the Defence Scientific Advisory Council, who report to Secy of State. Their March 2004 report that led to the aborted contract I mentioned postulated Ammonia Borane Fuel Cells as the ultimate solution in a 3-phase, long term R&D programme. As I said, the Chosen One didn't get past phase 1. Not by coincidence, the same year (2006) saw the total recall and destruction order on Li-Ion radio batteries, which contributed to so many deaths. Same company. I suspect you are right. We need to look outside the traditional MoD suppliers. Some are many years ahead.
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Old 16th Jul 2017, 17:47   #7 (permalink)
 
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Lithium Ion Batteries can only fly with a 30% charge, not good if you want to use it straight away. Lithium Metals Batteries the ALARP police wouldn't let anyone on the same aircraft.
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Old 16th Jul 2017, 18:06   #8 (permalink)
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The other determining factor is the old "battlefield fuel" chestnut, whereby our allies try to achieve interoperability, and share resources; despite perpetual failure to agree such strategies
I've seen the number of adapters STANAVFORLANT needed for sharing fuel, God alone knows how many adapters the army would have to carry around to share electric power sockets worldwide in 2 and 3 phase let alone dedicated proprietory electric charging points....
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Old 16th Jul 2017, 19:52   #9 (permalink)
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Silly me, I forgot the military runs on power point, death by power point Tec, who needs petrol.
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Old 16th Jul 2017, 23:10   #10 (permalink)
 
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QinetiQ built a hybrid off-road truck demonstrator a bit like an Alvis Stalwart. Claimed advantages were simpler transmission (a motor in each wheel), and reduced thermal and noise signatures. Short range movements could be made on batteries alone, with claimed reduced risk of detection.



https://www.qinetiq.com/news/2016/08...rpa-investment

The Navy has had electric vehicles, AKA submarines, for over a century, and now electric surface vessels in the shape of Type 45 destroyers, although the latter do seem to have got off to a bit of an inauspicious start.

Aircraft-wise, Desert Hawk and in the near future, Zephyr are the trend setters.
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Old 17th Jul 2017, 04:46   #11 (permalink)
 
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Mechta

Thanks for the link. The point I'd make is that in the examples I used the poor soldier has to hump his own power around, within a notional overall limit of 28kg. (Much more than that of course, but that's the official target). In other examples, the weight of the power source is negligible compared to the rest of the vehicle, and in some cases, arguably, not really an issue.

The age old question is, when do you stop and say, right we'll go with this, knowing it will be obsolescent by the ISD. Especially on anything that works on wiggly amps. Is the QQ demonstrator aimed at the AJAX programme (FRES), already nearly 20 years old and barely 2 steps forward? Or is it aimed at the AJAX replacement?

From a more practical viewpoint, what availability are they looking for? Given the rest is a relatively simple mechanical device, a truck only needs diesel and off she goes. I suggest we are decades way from having the infrastructure, which is what Pontius was getting at, quite rightly. QQ will have lots of clever people working on the science, but applying that science is equally complex. It may be this limits use to the rear echelon, or even just moving stores between depots. In which case you need two infrastructures, which would be enough to scrap any programme.

Reminds me of the problem we used to have on the old CVSs. There was only room in the workshops for 2 ATE suites. With 3 aircraft types (SHAR, SK and Merlin), 2 had to double up. So, for example, when ASaC Mk7 was being developed, it had to use either BVATE or MATS, not its own bespoke ATE (RATS); which became a major development burden. If that couldn't be achieved, the programme was dead on its feet, despite wonderful technology elsewhere.

Is that load on the truck the battery packs, within an explosion-proof box, a la Dreamliner?
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Old 17th Jul 2017, 09:24   #12 (permalink)
 
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With regards to road vehicles, I was involved in a project with Volvo trucks where we were trying to improve the environmental performance of our fleet and part of that process was considering all potential fuel sources. One thing became very obvious quite quickly with regards to electrically powered vehicles; up to 3.5t gvw, providing the infrastructure was available to support it, battery power was achievable. Anything greater than 3.5t gvw, the weight of the batteries required to move it, would take practically all of the available payload. The end-result was that for commercial use, bi-fuel engines are pretty much the way this is going to go for the foreseeable future and would appear to be confirmed by the latest Volvo announcement (albeit this is for their cars, which are no longer owned by AB Volvo).

Having moved on and now involved in the world-wide recall of failed Li-Ion batteries, the latest news is that Lithium is on its way out, to be replaced by Sodium-Ion.
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Old 17th Jul 2017, 10:17   #13 (permalink)
 
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Originally Posted by tucumseh View Post
Is the QQ demonstrator aimed at the AJAX programme (FRES), already nearly 20 years old and barely 2 steps forward? Or is it aimed at the AJAX replacement?
MIV surely (The wheeled element from FRES), rather than the tracked Ajax/Scout?

Reading that, it looks like they have their eye on the US Stryker replacement/update as well
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Old 17th Jul 2017, 10:47   #14 (permalink)
 
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My eldest son works in Rotterdam II port where he runs the section responsible for the servicing of the electric vehicles which transfer containers from the ships to the waiting trucks and vice versa.

The vehicles have a conventional lead acid battery pack which weighs 12 tonnes. They can carry two 30 tonne containers, and when fully laden the whole rig weighs around 100 tonnes. Their maximum speed fully laden is around 30kph. They are working more or less continuously and typically they need to visit the battery section every 8 hours to have their depleted batteries removed and a new pack fitted. The whole procedure is entirely automatic, as this, as well as the vehicles' loading/unloading schedule is computer controlled, and the vehicles are driverless.

I'm not sure how relevant all this to military operations, but I only post it as it indicates what can be achieved with even conventional battery powered vehicles.
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Old 17th Jul 2017, 12:55   #15 (permalink)
 
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I'm afraid the very thought of FRES makes me twitch. When we got the URD in April 2002, showing an In Service Date commencing 2007, we were quietly told to completely ignore this, and assume it wouldn't be met by over a decade. That early version of the URD didn't really break it down the way you do. It stated the main vehicles we'd need until 2025 would be Challenger 2 and Warrior, so wheeled was rather ignored at that time. Regarding batteries, the issue was providing charging in the back of Warrior, but we were aware the FRES contractor at the time was looking at hybrid drives. On MBT, the main concern was the tank telephone cable was cut every time they slotted a new engine in!
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Old 17th Jul 2017, 13:00   #16 (permalink)
 
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The bottom line preventing the use of electric is energy density. The kWh per kilo figure is still 10 times higher for diesel! We need a technology breakthrough in battery design before we can even start to address the infrastructure aspect.
Having said that, there is of course lots of potential on docks, airfields etc.
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Old 17th Jul 2017, 13:09   #17 (permalink)
 
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Unless there's a tactical advantage I really can't see fully electric army trucks in the near future; hybrid maybe for limited ops quiet running with a low heat signature (after your IC eng has cooled down).
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Old 17th Jul 2017, 13:36   #18 (permalink)
 
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As the owner of an all-electric Peugeot iOn, I'm fully conscious of the limitations. Sub-100 mile range, in my case, but at least I don't have to travel large distances on this small Island. It's currently plugged in to a 240v socket in the garage - I must check whether it's full in a minute.

BUT ... take away the 240v socket indoors, or need to do more than a handful of laps of the airfield, and you really do start to hit the down-side. There are a few Goverment-operated iOns here: fine for running around St Helier and beyond, and undoubtedly plugged in when not being used. I would struggle to see their utility outside our constrained little world.
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Old 17th Jul 2017, 13:59   #19 (permalink)
 
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I think a few people have got it nailed for military application. Charging isn't going to happen in the field, so the solution is perhaps a hybrid in the mid term for logistics vehicles.

However, with regards civvy trucking I feel bound to disagree with a few. Sure there is an energy density problem, but outside of that, trucking has to be the easiest thing in the world to design for, because the usage pattern is almost entirely rigid within a given country. Driver is allowed to drive for X hours at Y mph. Must then take break of at least Z followed by repeat of X & Y and a further prescribed break. All one requires is the technology to charge for range X*Y in time Z & a decent charging infra. Then you're sorted. None of the standard consumer driver issues of 'but what about my holiday to the south of France where I want to drive there without stopping?'. Granted the technology is not easy , nor the infra cheap, but the goal is very clearly defined and I'd be amazed if someone hasn't achieved it (at least in prototype) inside a decade. Tesla have already stated they aim to develop a 'semi' I believe.
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Old 17th Jul 2017, 14:11   #20 (permalink)
 
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The issue is the charging infrastructure. Pan-National standardisation, fast v. slow charging, And who will pay for these innumerable charging points? And how does the user payment system work?

Count the number of petrol pumps you see on a typical 50 mile journey, capable of replenishing a vehicle in <5 minutes. Extrapolate that to the requirement for nationwide charging points that need (fast charge) maybe 30 minutes. How many tens/hundreds of thousands would be needed? Not forgetting the real estate needed to have vehicles sat there for ~30 minutes at each charging point.

I'm not going near any possible Army/Field aspects. I don't know enough.
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