Issue: Aug 2009


TARDEC, Michigan Congressional Delegation Break Ground on Army’s Next Generation Ground Vehicle Po



by Jon Knox

The U.S. Army’s Tank and Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) broke ground today on the Department of Defense’s (DOD’s) pioneering Ground System Power and Energy Laboratory (GSPEL), leading the way to produce safer, more efficient and more advanced ground vehicles. 

When completed, the eight-labs-in-one complex will have capabilities unlike any other facility in the world, including the ability to test both entire vehicles and individual vehicle system components in a wide variety of environmental conditions. Designed with an eye toward the future, the GSPEL will serve as the cornerstone for the Army’s next generation of advanced ground vehicle power and energy solutions.
Michigan Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow and U.S. Rep. Sander Levin joined TARDEC Director Dr. Grace M. Bochenek and more than 360 other government and industry leaders in marking the historic day. 

“This research and development facility will provide the Army with the cutting-edge laboratory space and equipment necessary to conduct research, development, modeling, simulation and testing on military ground vehicles of all sizes with any type of propulsion system,” said Bochenek. “Everyone at TARDEC was thrilled to host this important ground-breaking ceremony today and spotlight the incredible capabilities TARDEC brings to engineering systems integration and military vehicle design.” 

Sen. Carl Levin said, “I’m pleased to ‘break ground’ on this ‘ground-breaking’ facility that will make our military vehicles safer and more fuel-efficient. The technology developed and tested at this new TARDEC laboratory will save the lives of our warfighters … that is what today’s investment is all about.” 

Addressing the potential economic impact to the region, Levin went on to say, “The Department of Defense’s advances [in alternative energy] are making a significant contribution to Michigan’s central place in our nation’s energy and manufacturing futures.” 

Sen. Debbie Stabenow echoed that sentiment, saying the laboratory represented evidence of a shared commitment “to ensure that we are the advanced battery manufacturing center of the States, competing successfully around the world.”
Congressman Sander Levin said, “For me, this has been a labor of love: a love for our country, a love of all those who serve in the armed forces, and a love of all those serving those who serve. TARDEC, and its pioneering work, belongs in Michigan.” 

Among the eight unique labs in the GPSEL complex are the Hybrid-Electric Lab and the Fuel Cell Lab, which will evaluate hybrid-electric powertrains, and develop and evaluate fuel cell components and systems. TARDEC supports all of the Nation’s manned and unmanned ground vehicles, which means finding solutions that will work across a variety of tactical vehicle and robotic platforms. 

The GSPEL’s centerpiece will be the Power and Energy Vehicle Environment Lab, which includes one of the largest environmental chambers in the world. It will be able to test vehicles in extreme temperatures, humidity and solar conditions. 

TARDEC and its partners have spent years researching and developing hybrid-electric systems, hydrogen fuel cells, alternative fuels and energy storage devices. Example programs include the Fuel Efficient Ground Vehicle Demonstrator, Hydrogen Cooperative Refueling Program, Hybrid-Electric Vehicle Experimentation and Assessment Program, and ongoing Army Technology Objective vehicle testing programs. These new labs will help further research and development into alternative fuels and propulsion systems, and focus efforts to address critical combat vehicle fuel efficiencies, auxiliary power requirements and field sustainability issues. 

TARDEC’s work in the areas of fuel efficiency and energy security ensure our warfighters have the most advanced, high-tech vehicles imaginable.

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