MCB Quantico –
On March 22, 2023, the Office of the Secretary of Defense Manufacturing Science and Technology Program (MSTP) hosted a demonstration at Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia to increase Warfighter awareness of hydrogen-enabled technologies that are ready for transition to Department of Defense applications. A team effort between MSTP, which is overseen by the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, and the U.S. Marine Corps, the Army Ground Vehicle Systems Center, the Naval Research Laboratory, and the Department of Energy, the Hydrogen Demonstration Event showcased multiple DoD‐sponsored projects that address current DoD energy challenges through the use of hydrogen as a logistics fuel. The MSTP investment portfolio focuses on solving manufacturing needs outside of what a single Military Service or Federal agency can address on its own, encouraging collaboration to achieve the biggest, most cost‐effective results possible.
One of the projects featured was MSTP’s Lightweight Hydrogen Fuel Cell technology, which was integrated with two platforms performing mission‐specific operations. The Lockheed Martin H2 Stalker unmanned aircraft system used the fuel cell during a flight demonstration simulating reconnaissance of the local terrain, performing vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) maneuvers while supplying a direct thermal imaging feed from overhead. The demonstration proved the significant audible signature reduction that hydrogen technology provides over typical heavy‐fuel engines. The Hydrogen Small Unit Power generator proved its capabilities by powering a network‐on the‐move system atop a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, while simultaneously charging eight communications‐type lithium‐ion batteries using an Advanced Battery Charger and providing DC ports that could be used to power portable electronic devices in the field. Hydrogen‐fueled platforms demonstrated at the event also included an unmanned tracked vehicle platform, a hydrogen fuel transport unit, and light tactical offroad vehicles, among others. “Hydrogen technology is providing us with an opportunity to change the way we look at military fuel logistics. By enabling longer mission durations, lower maintenance requirements and quick refueling times, our Warfighter will be able to better allocate resources and fight more efficiently,” said Justin McRoberts, MSTP Program Manager.
Warfighter Benefits of the Lightweight Hydrogen Fuel Cell
- Increased available power
- Increased endurance and range over batteries, 4-8x endurance
- Increase in power plant lifetime
- Significant reduction in startup time
- No launch and recovery equipment (VTOL)
- Decreased thermal signature
- Reduced audible/acoustic signature, 10x audible reduction over heavy‐fuel engines
- State of health (SoH) monitoring
- Increased cost savings, 10x operating cost advantage over heavy‐fuel engines
Recognizing that mutual interests and joint investments help drive developments in engineering, innovation, and manufacturing, MSTP convened the Hydrogen Demonstration Event as a forum for the Services and Agencies to network, share best practices, and explore the possibilities for future cross‐Service collaboration. From there, said Mr. McRoberts, “by working closely with the DoE and allied partners, we can ensure we have the proper supply capabilities to overcome any worldwide logistics challenges.” Ultimately, joint efforts to advance hydrogen technology for the Warfighter will benefit other sectors as well. According to Captain David Lorio, an electrical engineer with the USMC Expeditionary Energy Office (E20), “the current work being done by the DoE and DoD will facilitate national access to hydrogen for use in the private and public sectors, improving energy efficiencies, reliability, and environmental emissions in every system it fuels.”
The event drew nearly 80 individuals from across the Government, private industry, and academia, including U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) Lieutenant General Edward Banta, USMC Major General David Maxwell, USMC Brigadier General Kyle Ellison, and USMC Colonel Aaron Angell. The live, hands‐on format allowed the Flag Officers to interact with the technologies, observe capabilities, and speak directly to the project teams, providing direct feedback for forward‐planning processes. Spurred by its mission to invest in joint, defense‐critical, and sometimes high-risk manufacturing technology areas to facilitate uptake of these technologies by our Warfighters and supply chains, the MSTP team looks forward to continuing its collaboration across the Department to hasten the deployment of safe and efficient hydrogen technologies.
For more information about the Manufacturing Science and Technology Program and how to get involved, please visit https://www.dodmantech.mil/DoD‐ManTech/OSDs‐MSTP/