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PHOTO CAPTION: Zero South tracked HumVee

Tracked HumVees Readying for South Pole Trek

Using biodiesel as its liquid fuel to run its electric generator, the Zero South HumVees hope to cross the 1,200 miles of polar continent's ice and snow.

Published: 28-Apr-2015

Two AM General HumVees equipped with 24kWh of Electrovaya lithium ion batteries that are charged by a biodiesel-fueled UQM generator are aiming to cross 1,200 miles of Antarctic ice and snow to the South Pole. Each is equipped with individual electric motors that power the vehicles' four rubber tracks. According to the Zero South team website, the range in EV-mode is 32 miles. However, since the batteries can be kept recharged by the 3.2L, 6-cylinder diesel engine that's been modified to run on biodiesel fuel, in hybrid mode the operating range is estimated to be 360 miles. Think of them as the Chevy Volts of the South Pole. The team calls them Polar Transverse Vehicles or PTVs.

Since temperatures at the South Pole can be as cold as -60° Fahrenheit, the team will have two key concerns: battery temperature and fuel gelling. To deal with the first challenge, each 24kWh pack is integrated in to an insulated case that runs down the spin of the vehicle. Since each vehicle is equipped with auxiliary heaters for the cabin some of this heat may be used to also keep the batteries from freezing.

The second challenge is fuel gelling. It is commonly known that biodiesel, which is derived from a blend on regular diesel fuel and a plant-based substitute, is prone to gelling in cold temperatures. Keeping their biodiesel viscous will be important during the expedition. Each vehicle is also equipped with heaters to keep the fuel warm. All this 'parasitic' energy use will consume a lot of fuel, so resupplying the Zero South team on its way to and from the South Pole will be the job of Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions LLC.

The entire expedition will be filmed in 4K 3D as part of a 10-episode television series and feature film.

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