Fuel-Guzzling Trucks Are the Target of Marine Corps' Upcoming Energy Experiment
The Corps is seeking ideas from industry on how to reduce vehicle fuel consumption. The goal is to test promising technologies at a demonstration scheduled for August at Twentynine Palms, Calif. Proposals are due April 29.
Improved fuel economy and greater onboard power generation capability are sought for the Humvee; the MRAP or mine-resistant ambush-protected truck; and the MTVR, or medium tactical vehicle replacement.
In the last decade, the Defense Department’s tactical truck fleet has experienced a 75 percent increase in gross vehicle weight with a commensurate 30 percent decrease in fuel economy, said Jonathan Carpenter, the lead engineer for expeditionary power systems at Marine Corps Systems Command.
Loaded down with armor and combat gear, a Humvee gets 8 miles per gallon; the MRAP ekes out 4 miles per gallon and the MTVR attains 4.3 miles per gallon, he told the Institute for Defense and Governmental Advancement’s tactical vehicle summit on April 20. Keeping up with fuel demands in Afghanistan has been a huge logistics and security challenge as resupply convoys must travel hundreds of miles on mine-infested road to reach forward operating bases.
To address battlefield power and energy problems, the Marine Corps last year began hosting a series of experiments designed to test commercial technologies in realistic environments. The first experimental forward operating base, or ExFOB, event held in Quantico, Va., demonstrated solar power and water generation systems. A unit subsequently deployed to Afghanistan with some of those renewable technologies and is evaluating them in combat operations.
A second ExFOB held at Twentynine Palms attracted companies that had developed hybrid photovoltaic generator-battery systems, solar powered direct current (DC) air conditioners and solar powered DC coolers.
For the third ExFOB in August, Marine officials are seeking high efficiency and large area photovoltaic technologies to harvest solar energy for a company-sized forward operating base at approximately 5 kilowatts. Marines also are interested in PV technologies that can heat water. One of the objectives is “improving the fuel efficiency of tactical vehicles and looking for ways to more efficiently power both on and off-board electronic systems,” according to the solicitation posted on theFedBizOpps website. “There are a lot of technologies out there that the government is unaware of, or simply hasn’t purchased yet,” Carpenter said. “Why don’t you bring it to the desert and we’ll test it.”