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Why quick-charge electric vehicles are perfect for the military

The silence of electric vehicles are perfect for covert operations, and the cost benefits on military bases could be enormous. 

By Antony IngramGuest blogger / September 8, 2013

An electric/hybrid vehicle charges at a public charging station in Chapel Hill, N.C. The US military base on Fort Carson, Colo. is beginning to experiment with electric vehicle fleets.

Gary Broome/AP/File

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In theory, the silence of electric vehicles makes them perfect for military use.

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What better for covert operations than a vehicle that generates very little noise? The Canadian military would probably agree.

Silent vehicles aren't quite as critical on military bases, but that's where the cost benefits come in. The U.S. Army has already explored microgrid technology at Fort Carson in Colorado, and now that same base has adopted quick charging technology for a small fleet of vehicles.

According to Charged EVs, Fort Carson has installed five bidirectional fast-charging stations, allowing them to run a fleet of Boulder Electric Vehicle and Smith Electric plug-in trucks.

The chargers use SAE-standard J1772-compliant connections, allowing the trucks to supply charge back to the grid in a power outage. As part of Fort Carson's microgrid--including diesel generators and solar power--the system allows the base to be energy-independent from the civilian grid.

The charging points have been developed by the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) and Missouri-based Burns and McDonnell Engineering, as part of the 'SPIDERS' project. This stands for Smart Power Infrastructure Demonstration for Energy Reliability and Security, and the upshot is a system capable of delivering 300 kW, and battery discharging of 60 kW.

Naturally, when not powering the base the chargers allow the small fleet of trucks to go about their daily business on very little energy--according to Smith Electric, its trucks cost one half to one third the average diesel equivalent.

Should such projects prove successful on bases like Fort Carson, it's easy to see them being used further afield too--potentially even in warzones.

[Hat tip: Brian Henderson]

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