By John W. Wray
U.S. ARMY DETROIT ARSENAL, WARREN, Mich. -- When the Army officially opens the Ground Systems Power and Energy Laboratory April 11, more than 300 of the nation's top government, industry and academic leaders will tour a unique lab that is not only the cornerstone of the Army's next-generation of power and energy initiatives but also the Army's most environmentally conscious laboratory.
The 30,000-sq.-ft. GSPEL offers an unprecedented range of test and validation capabilities in eight labs combined to meet power, energy and mobility technologies at a single facility. In addition, the GSPEL is the first Defense Department lab designed and built to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification criteria. (Official certification awaits final review.)
LEED encompasses a suite of rating systems for the design, construction and operation of high performance environmentally conscious buildings, homes and neighborhoods. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and spearheaded by LEED founding chairman Robert K. Watson, LEED is intended to provide building owners and operators a concise framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions.
"The Army's best and brightest ground vehicle researchers, scientists, engineers and technicians combined with the GSPEL's unique facilities will enable the Army to innovate tomorrow's energy solutions," said TARDEC Interim Director Jennifer Hitchcock. "The Detroit Arsenal is leading by example by designing this building to be environmentally responsible and helping the Army meet objectives for energy security."
The GSPEL is an eight-labs-in-one facility, but two labs in particular represent its unique capabilities: Power and Energy Vehicle Environmental Lab (PEVEL) and the Electric Components Lab.
The PEVEL is the centerpiece lab and features a one-of-a-kind in the world combination of a state-of-the-art vehicle environmental chamber integrated with twelve re-configurable dynamometers. The chamber enables testing at temperatures from minus 60°F to 160°F, relative humidity levels from 0 to 95 percent and winds up to 60 mph. The lab's dynamometer and environmental chamber combination allows for full mission profile testing of any wheeled vehicle, manned or unmanned, in the military inventory in any environmental condition.
The Electric Components Lab evaluates hybrid electric powertrains with the principal emphasis on developing hybrid motor technology and contributing to the increased electrification of vehicles. Equipment used in this lab will potentially regenerate 80 percent power back into the building, making it possible to re-use the electricity.
An impressive list of partners collaborated with the Army Corps of Engineers on GSPEL construction. That list includes the following prime contractors:
• Construction Manager: Walsh Construction of Chicago (managed by the Detroit office)
• Designer: BEI Associates, Detroit
• PEVEL Dynamometers: Horiba of Troy, Mich.
• PEVEL Integrator: Jacobs Technology of Southfield, Mich.
• ECL Lab Dynamometers: Mustang of Twinsburg, Ohio
• Environmental Chambers (2): Russell's Technical Products of Holland, Mich.
• Fuel Cell Lab Hoods: New-Tech of Midland, Mich.
• Calorimeter: Climatic Testing Systems (CTS) of Warminster, Pa.
• Air Flow Lab: Climatic Testing Systems (CTS) of Warminster, Pa.
• Electrical Sub Contractor: Centerline Electric of Centerline, Mich.
• Mechanical Sub Contractor: De-Cal of Warren
• Ductwork Sub Contractor: Allied Ventilation of Warren