Being that this is the pinnacle of the election season; certain rhetoric is continually circulated in an effort to sway any remaining undecided voters. One issue given particular attention because of the various auto industry loans, Wall Street bailouts and economic stimulation legislation recently passed through Congress are “earmarks.” Congressmen/women typically earmark funds for specific projects or organizations within their own state. Like that $3 million overhead projector Sen. John McCain has mentioned several times. (I hope it was at least a really BIG overhead projector) At any rate, Sen. Barack Obama, in an attempt to show transparency in this issue, has released a list of “earmarks” that he is responsible for including a proposed $2 million HUMVEE project.
Not long after joining the senate in 2006, Obama requested $2 million for a HUMVEE hybrid conversion project, essentially half of which was approved. The funds were set aside for the Illinois Institute of Technology. The project focused on the feasibility of retrofitting HUMVEES with an electric hybrid system in order to increase acceleration and fuel efficiency. In that regard, it seems to have been successful as testing of prototypes resulted in 50% gain. Previously, hybrid-electric vehicles have been studied mainly with the aim of increasing fuel economy. Of course, improvements of both fuel economy and performance would be a win-win scenario. As you can imagine, vehicular-dynamic-performance characteristics such as acceleration and climbing ability are of prime importance in military vehicles such as the high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle (HMMWV).
One company that has adopted such research is TARDEC, who alongside DRS Technologies, has designed and developed a highly efficient, mobile power source demonstrator – the XM1124 Hybrid Electric Humvee. The HE Humvee is an advanced series hybrid electric vehicle that houses an engine/generator as the prime power source, a high voltage battery pack for short term load leveling and brake event energy storage, and has the ability to export power. The vehicle demonstrator displays tactical mobility, and in some cases surpasses the standard Humvee. With additional characteristics that reduce fuel consumption, provide for export power, and meet some standard Humvee requirements, the HE Humvee has payoffs that can be attained on current and future military vehicles.
Although it is easy in this economic climate to be skeptical of our own government and their judgment with taxpayer money, not all projects, even those costing $1 million, are wasteful.