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Korean Army Adopts Hydrogen Energy for Military Hardware

By June 18, 2024 3   min read  (413 words)

June 18, 2024 |

Korean Army Adopts Hydrogen Energy for Military Hardware

The Korean Army is embarking on a groundbreaking transition from traditional internal combustion engines to hydrogen-powered military hardware, signaling a significant shift towards sustainable energy use in military operations. On June 17, a pivotal event titled the Future Hydrogen Mobility Public-Private-Military Cooperation Seminar was held at the Seventh Mobile Corps Conference Center in Icheon, Gyeonggi Province, marking a collaborative effort among Korea’s leading mobility companies.

Companies such as Hyundai Motor, Kia Corp., Hyundai Rotem, and Doosan Mobility joined forces with the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy, and the Korea Automotive Technology Institute to advance this initiative. The Seventh Mobile Corps, known for its robust tank and armored vehicle fleet exceeding 800 units—a number surpassing that of the United Kingdom, France, and Germany—is spearheading the transition to hydrogen engines.

image002This seminar facilitated the exchange of vital operational requirements from the military to the participating companies. Hyundai and Kia are set to adapt their hydrogen-fueled vehicles for military use, undertaking research and development to produce vehicles robust enough for wartime scenarios based on provided specifications.

Hyundai is developing a unique “H-Moving Station,” a hydrogen refueling vehicle designed to support military operations by carrying and recharging 50 kilograms of hydrogen irrespective of location. Kia is working on a powerful hydrogen-fueled vehicle capable of delivering 100 kW per hour using hydrogen fuel cells, alongside a specialized military vehicle. Furthermore, Doosan Mobility is focusing on hydrogen drones, while Hyundai Rotem is concentrating on hydrogen tanks and armored vehicles.

The Second Rapid Response Division under the Seventh Mobile Corps is scheduled to begin piloting hydrogen-powered light tactical vehicles and other hydrogen-fueled hardware from December this year. Additionally, the division will deploy two hydrogen drones during the National Defense Drill in October. Hyundai Rotem is also set to test-run a hydrogen generator by year-end.

The transition to hydrogen energy is driven by its higher power generation efficiency—up to 47% or more—compared to the 28-32% efficiency of conventional fossil fuel power. Hydrogen fuel cells, which are smaller and lighter than traditional electric battery cells, will allow the Korean Army to generate and supply power on-demand across various locations.

Furthermore, using hydrogen reduces the risk of detection by enemies, as it does not produce noise, fumes, or heat like diesel engines. This stealth advantage, coupled with the environmental benefit of reduced carbon emissions, positions the Korean Army at the forefront of modernizing defense technologies through sustainable practices.

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