The military flexes its research, development, and testing muscles for next-generation technology with the groundbreaking announcement of a forthcoming multi-laboratory complex in Warren, MI.
Tagged as the cornerstone for the U.S. Army's next generation of power and energy initiatives, the $45 million, 30,000-ft² (2800-m²) U.S. Department of Defense Ground Systems Power and Energy Laboratory (GSPEL) is expected to be operational in September 2011.
GSPEL will be capable of testing, optimizing, and integrating "vehicle propulsion, power generation, energy storage, power management, and control systems for current and future manned and unmanned ground vehicles," U.S. Senator Carl Levin, who serves as Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said at the Aug. 17 groundbreaking ceremony.
The U.S. Tank Automotive Research, Development, and Engineering Center (TARDEC) worked with Southwest Research Institute to develop GSPEL's equipment and facility specifications for eight labs: Power (Electrochemical), Electrical Power and Architecture Systems Integration, Hybrid-Electric, Fuel Cell, Pulse Power and Directed Energy, Thermal Management, Air Filtration, and Power and Energy Vehicle Environment.
GSPEL's showpiece, the Power and Energy Vehicle Environment Lab, "will have one of the largest environmental chambers in the world," said Dr. Grace Bochenek, Director of the U.S. Army's TARDEC. The extra-spacious environmental chamber means engineers, scientists, and researchers will have "the ability to test any size vehicle—wheeled or tracked—under any environmental condition regardless of the propulsion system," Bochenek said. Testing equipment providers for the Power and Energy Vehicle Environment Lab include AeroVironment and Horiba.
GSPEL "will attract scientists and engineers who are interested in working with TARDEC using state-of-the-art equipment to address significant problems," said Dr. Thomas Killion, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology. Dr. Killion is the Army's Chief Scientist.
Hundreds of technical specialists will work to develop and test hybrid-electric systems, fuel cells, and other advanced technologies at GSPEL. "Co-location and access to critical equipment is absolutely essential for progress, particularly today where a lot of the progress we're making is in the interdisciplinary areas," said Killion, adding, "Working together is what will enable us to design and develop integrated systems as opposed to piecemeal types of efforts."