From the Bleeding Obvious Files: U.S. Army Still Relies on Carbon-Based Fuels

Guest “No Schist Sherlock” by David Middleton

U.S. Army still relies on carbon-based fuels, report says

The U.S. Army still relies on carbon-based fuels, which will likely remain the primary fuel, according to a report released by Dr. David J. Gorsich and Dr. André Boehman.

Army’s chief scientist for ground vehicle systems Dr. David J. Gorsich and professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan, director of the university’s Walter E. Lay Automotive Laboratory André Boehman noted in its report that the Army’s requirement calls for the highest energy-density fuel combined with the lowest mass and volume—and gasoline and diesel still win over alternative energy.

Army scientists’ report examined why isn’t the U.S. Army using alternative forms of energy and powertrains more extensively to reduce fuel usage for its vehicles?

Tesla is building large semitrucks, and UPS and FedEx are starting to order these vehicles for delivery operations. It seems the entire automotive industry is migrating toward electrification as battery costs have dropped dramatically and recharge times and range have improved accordingly. With all of the major automobile manufacturers moving toward hybrids and electric vehicles, it’s easy to get confused and wonder why the Army is so far behind.

The reality is that the Army is not behind. It has experts in all of these fields who have been conducting research on alternative energy sources and hybrids for military vehicles for more than 20 years. 


However, the bottom line is that there is a good reason the Army hasn’t unilaterally decided to switch to alternative fuels. The Army has a unique set of operational requirements, and no current fuel source meeting those requirements contains as much energy, by weight, as diesel or gasoline.


This analysis focuses on energy density (the amount of energy stored in a system per unit of volume), conversion of that energy, as well as mass and volume requirements, to determine how they compare to current sources.



They needed a report for this?

Although… The Army could save a lot of money on night vision gear if they went to 100% solar power… 😉

In other news…
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Alexander Mentes
December 17, 2020 6:03 pm

The military’s job is to break things and kill people. Efficiency counts.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Alexander Mentes
December 17, 2020 7:55 pm

Planned and organized lethal violence without prejudice, but only when necessary and ordered.
Liberals need not apply.

Bryan A
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
December 17, 2020 8:27 pm

You don’t need fossil fuels to eliminate your enemy. Just develop a viral pathogen and associated cure and vaccine. “Accidentally” release the virus and say nothing for months. Sacrifice a few tens of thousands of your people to ensure a global spread. Then after a few months or so distribute the “cure shot” to your local hospitals to eliminate its further spread. Finally, since global spreading pandemics can ultimately and eventually return home, require doctors to distribute a “special vitamin” shot to the majority of the populace (to gain heard immunity).
Kill millions globally without expending a drop of fossil fueled by the army

Reply to  Bryan A
December 17, 2020 9:22 pm

Are you advocating biological warfare? This will end well!

John Endicott
Reply to  Mikee
December 18, 2020 6:45 am

no, Mikee, he isn’t. He’s clearly making a comment about something that you may have heard about in the news the past several months, as I’m sure you well know.

very old white guy
Reply to  David Middleton
December 18, 2020 4:23 am

If this was a biological weapon it was the least effective ever developed. If this was a psyop, it was very effective as stupid people ran around with their hair on fire and morons started thinking that a flu bug was going to decimate the planet, it hasn’t and it won’t.

Reply to  very old white guy
December 18, 2020 5:40 am

I recall reading that Stalin was convinced he could invade and conquer USA whenever he wished. Why? He witnessed the reaction to Orson Welles broadcast of “War of the Worlds”and concluded Americans were easily panicked.
What do we suppose the ChiComs inferred from Wuhan flu?

Bryan A
Reply to  very old white guy
December 19, 2020 11:36 pm

Not so sure, I have yet to hear the Reubenesque beauties aria

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
December 19, 2020 6:35 am

Slight correction :
Planned and organized lethal violence with extreme prejudice, but only when necessary and ordered.

Reply to  Alexander Mentes
December 17, 2020 8:41 pm

The military doth not protest nor abort in mass. Their objective is to force a consensus with minimal damage and loss of life. The alt-job is a secular quasi-religious (“ethical”) solution.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  n.n
December 17, 2020 9:24 pm

The purpose of a military is organized violence and lethal outcome. Minimizing loss of life of an opponent is a politician’s job. Those who need k1lling, need k1lling from the military commander’s view. Correct or not, General McArthur desire to end the Korean War early with nukes was tempered and reined in by his political boss. To not understand that is to not understand the nature of warfare and preservation of a society.

John Endicott
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
December 18, 2020 6:48 am

Indeed, the only life a military is supposed to prioritize the prevention of loss is, first and foremost, the lives of it’s own civilian population and secondly the lives of it’s own military personnel. Lives of the opponents isn’t even in the top ten.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
December 18, 2020 11:20 am

And look what Truman got us, a North Korea with Nukes that is a vassal state of China.

The US (Roosevelt) allowed Uncle Joe Stalin to control North Korea and eastern Europe after WWII. Patton wanted to just continue through Europe to the border of Russia. MacArthur wanted to us Nukes on China to end the Korean War. If that had happened the most likely result would have been a peaceful world. The world would have been saved from 70 years of cold war and Russian and now Chinese hegemony. All because of POLITICS. The generals knew what would save the most lives, the politicians only wanted their power.

Historically, arms manufacturers and bankers LOVE war. Lots of money to be made.

So in terms of the US presidential election, TRUMP! was getting the US OUT of the war games. I think his either fight and WIN, or get out philosophy scared the crap out of the deep state, bankers and the military/industrial complex. No wonder almost all “media” was against TRUMP!. Also, the Democrat party, candidates and political action committees got FAR MORE campaign donations than TRUMP! and the Republicans. That is discounting the In Kind contributions of Facebook, Twitter, etc. etc. by blocking the Republican messaging and amplifying the Democrat messaging.

Joel O'Bryan
December 17, 2020 6:23 pm

Woe be unto the enemy facing the modern US Army, and US military in general, who thinks the dark of night is their friend keeping them from attack.

h/t: Luke 10:13

Joel O'Bryan
December 17, 2020 6:36 pm

BTW: The Babylon Bee article was quite humorous.
But Elon’s “The Boring Company” that made the flame thrower would be a better corporate fit for a Tesla battery-powerd AR. The Boring Company is moving to near Austin as well.

Zig Zag Wanderer
December 17, 2020 6:48 pm

I can just see a battleship or aircraft carrier having to return to base to recharge….

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
December 17, 2020 7:58 pm

The newest USN nuclear subs are designed to go a full 30 year life cycle without refueling. Imagine that in a carbon restricted world: Lethal and emissions free for the climate conscious warrior.

Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
December 18, 2020 4:49 am

The US Navy does not use battleships any more.
Underway/at sea replenishment is done by AOs (fleet oilers), which also may provide resupply of food and other necessary items – laundry detergent, for example.

Reply to  Sara
December 18, 2020 6:16 am

In addition, the Fleet’s aircraft carriers are nuclear powered and can remain at sea for up to 20 years without refueling. Resupply (food, medicine, etc.) is done by AOs, as noted above.

Craig from Oz
Reply to  David Middleton
December 18, 2020 9:15 pm

Diesel electric is the art of burning diesel to generate electricity and then using the electricity to drive electric motors. It means you don’t have to connect the diesel engine to the final drive (aka the propeller in this case) remotely and allows the propeller speed to be controlled independently of the diesel’s speed.

Do not let the word electric confuse the debate. The military want to control their supply lines because that allows them to control tempo of operations. Time spent refueling (or plugged into a charger) is time you are not spending making your enemies react to you.

December 17, 2020 6:53 pm

Nobody does logistics better than the military.

Reply to  commieBob
December 17, 2020 7:31 pm

Tactics win battles… logistics win wars.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Don
December 17, 2020 8:10 pm
Reply to  Don
December 19, 2020 7:50 am

You can have great logistics and tactically win every battle, but if on the strategic defense (Korea, Vietnam) rather than offense, you can only achieve a draw or lose.

Fred Ohr
December 17, 2020 7:30 pm

Those pesky power plants needed for recharging can’t make it onto the battlefield? Who would have thunk it? Maybe longer extension cords?

December 17, 2020 7:47 pm

Nobody is beyond the reach of totalitarianism.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Phil
December 17, 2020 8:50 pm

John Galt.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
December 18, 2020 7:11 pm


Chris Hanley
December 17, 2020 7:51 pm

I can’t find any confirmation online of any battery-powered large long haul trucks actually operating profitably.
As usual this supposedly exciting move to electric trucking is merely puffery.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Chris Hanley
December 17, 2020 8:15 pm

EV-powered long-haul trucks are modern unicorns. Literally.

John Endicott
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
December 18, 2020 6:55 am

Except that unicorns, it can be argued actually exist, technically. It’s been theorized that what Marco Polo termed a unicorn may, in fact, have been a rhinoceros

Reply to  Chris Hanley
December 21, 2020 3:32 am

I can’t find any confirmation online of any battery-powered large long haul trucks actually operating

fixed it for ya

December 17, 2020 8:13 pm

battery costs have dropped dramatically and recharge times and range have improved accordingly

They must believe that if they repeat a lie often enough, eventually it will come true.

John Endicott
Reply to  MarkW
December 18, 2020 6:58 am

They follow the George Castanza rule: “Remember Jerry, It’s not a lie if you believe it”. Many of them believe the lies they tell.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  John Endicott
December 18, 2020 7:32 am

“Many of them believe the lies they tell.”

Yes, they do. A lot of them don’t know they are lies, they have been duped into believing the lies.

December 17, 2020 8:45 pm

Doesn’t the military use aircraft ?
The fastest helicopter does about 300km/hr
The slow planes such as thunderbolt do about 700km/hr
The faster planes such as f15 do about 3000km/hr

I am unaware of any load carrying (weapons) electric planes
If there were I could probably should it down with simple Sam.

Bryan A
Reply to  Waza
December 19, 2020 11:39 pm

I could do it with my .22

Mark Pawelek
December 17, 2020 8:57 pm

It’s obvious armies use armoured vehicles: which tend to be a lot heavier; so need more power to move ’em. Plus firepower/mobility/control is a thing in winning battles.Wouldn’t want my army to be immobile because the tanks needed recharging. Military vehicles will never be battery operated. They could run off fuel cells. But please – not hydrogen – methanol or ammonia fuel cells?

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Mark Pawelek
December 17, 2020 10:02 pm

The densest (energy wise) and least volatile chemical fuels for transportation and safe storage are long-chain carbon-hydrogen molecules, replete with lots of electrons for redox reactions. That is science.
Everything else is unicorns and fairy dust fantasy, including nitrogen-based molecules.
Beyond chemical is nuclear. The possibilities there are vast. But radioactive.

December 18, 2020 12:07 am

Where will the armed forces source the fuel – if the entire national infrastructure supporting the fossil fuel industry is completely undermined?
Import a reserve of fuel (as and when required) from China possibly?

Rod Evans
December 18, 2020 12:46 am

When your life depends on it, you tend to make rational decisions, not virtue signals

Bruce Cobb
December 18, 2020 3:53 am

By a remarkable coincidence, all humanity “still” relies on carbon-based fuels. They are reliable, plentiful, and cost-effective. They are the reason we have been able to advance, with ever-increasing living standards. They are the reason we’ve been able to clean up our skies and waterways. The war against them is frankly, retarded, is setting us back, and is deadly.

December 18, 2020 4:17 am

And German car dealers are not very enthused with selling EVs as VW trying to keep down their expensive price puts the squeeze on dealer margins and their profitability-
Study: German dealers refuse to sell ID.3 even as VW talks big on EVs – Electrek

very old white guy
December 18, 2020 4:20 am

An army that does not rely on fossil fuels is no longer an army.

December 18, 2020 4:45 am

Ancient science fiction from 1979 has covered the possible use of nuclear energy on the battlefield in David Drake’s, “Hammer’s Slammers”. Quite a forward thinking collection of stories with diverse characters, technical descriptions and logistics for some future date. Rather interesting how science fiction sometimes become science fact.

Paul C
December 18, 2020 4:59 am

Unfortunately, the British army appears to be ahead of you Yanks in this.
The hybrid systems may actually be of benefit for fuel efficiency, quiet operation, and powering electronic systems without needing to have the engine running constantly. However, fully electric when deployed? Talk about range anxiety!

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  Paul C
December 18, 2020 6:39 am

Moving towards hybrid technology is seen as a step to reducing the Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) reliance on fossil fuels as it looks to meet the UK Government’s target of net-zero emissions by 2050.

Big red flag there. You can’t serve two masters, especially two that oppose each other. Chances are, these are costing a bundle, and it is likely that they are sacrificing on reliability as well as other areas.

Paul C
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
December 18, 2020 2:20 pm

Costing a bundle is just a feature of military procurment. The prominent example of which I am aware is the £14 billion Future Rapid Effects System (FRES) debacle which aimed to produce all-singing, all-dancing air-deployable combat vehicle variants, but never had an end product. It left the army short of capability, resulting in less than ideal veichles being procured at high cost for emergency deployment. That the whole army was restructured in order to utilise the mythical FRES indicates just how fundamental it was to MOD thinking.

Craig from Oz
Reply to  Paul C
December 18, 2020 9:43 pm

Can’t speak for the telegraph article (paywall) but the second link refers to the Jackal and Foxhound. They are ‘combat vehicles’ only in the sense that asymmetric warfare exists and there is often no ‘behind the lines’. 25 years ago the role of these vehicles would have been filled by Landrovers.

Paul C
Reply to  Craig from Oz
December 19, 2020 5:57 am

That is the path that the MOD has set for the British army. The whole FRES principle is based upon having such all-encompassing tracking and information systems available to frontline troops that they have full awareness of all freindly and enemy forces, so can use long range weaponry to eliminate the enemy before they can be fired upon. The belief is that they would then only need light armour to carry the weapons system and can be air-deployed. You don’t have to go back 25 years, snatch landrovers were deployed to Afghanistan because all eggs have been in the FRES basket for so long that there was a lack of APCs! I would want to be protected by heavy armour if I had to be in a battlefield playing real life video games.
The EU Referendum site had a lot on FRES (archived).
It has been suspected of the MOD that they always want to prepare to engage in the last conventional war they were involved in. They get surprised when each new enemy does not want to play by the same rules. I recall the astronomical cost of FRES was approaching £2 million per vehicle per year at one stage – over a 30 year projected life! And it was not even expected to be fully integrated as was the original purpose. It may have improved since then – most technology has improved over the years.

Abolition Man
Reply to  Paul C
December 19, 2020 12:55 am

For further fuel savings they could contact the eagles of Manwë to fly them about! I would also recommend working with the Pacific Northwest Orca Riders Association (a small outlier of the PBR) although I’m not sure how many orca would be willing to relocate to the North Atlantic and the North Sea. Too much pollution and too many offshore wind farms with their harmful subsonic vibrations; orcas are intelligent creatures, after all!
Perhaps they could reintroduce the massed unicorn cavalry charge as well! What could be more shock and awe inspiring?

Bob Cherba
December 18, 2020 6:18 am

Reminds me of another military study. I was in the USAF around 1960. In the Philippines, the O’Club had 10-cent drinks, and a case of beer was cheaper than a case of Coke (the soft drink, not the drug). Everything we did socially involved a liberal amount of alcohol. Some years later I noted that the military commissioned a study to examine why alcoholism was a problem. I could have saved them a lot of money if they’d just asked. (Hundreds of thousands of veterans, officers and NCOs, could have explained the situation.)

John Endicott
Reply to  Bob Cherba
December 18, 2020 7:06 am

A few decades earlier and a case of coke would have gotten you both, as the soft drink use to include the drug (in varying, albeit very small, amounts) from 1886 – 1929.

paul courtney
December 18, 2020 8:29 am

Really? I assumed the military branches had bought up all the EVs, that’s why it’s so hard to get one. /s/
When the post office fleet is ev, call me.

December 18, 2020 9:20 am

Only people without any common sense or incapable of logical thinking would need someone to generate a report like this one. So just about every one of our leaders…

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