A 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.