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M1 Abrams Fuel Consumption


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Walter_Sobchak #1 Posted Jun 30 2013 - 22:27

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I was sorting through some documents and found this chart from 1979 detailing performance and fuel consumption between the various competing powerpack options back in 1979 when the XM1 program was being decided. The competitors listed on the document are:

AGT-1500/X1100-3b (gas turbine with allison transmission, current M1 powerpack)
MTU873/Renk 354 (this is the German Leopard 2 powerpack)
MTU873/X1100-1C (Leopard 2 engine with allison transmission)
AVCR-1360/X1100-1C (Continental Motors variable compression diesel with Allison transmission)
AVCR-1360/RK304 (Continental Motors variable compression diesel with German Renk transmission)
AVCR-1360/X1100-2 (Continental Motors variable compression diesel with different version of Allison Transmission)

As can be seen in the chart, the AVCR with the Renk transmission actually had faster speeds on grade than the gas turbine while consumming 136 fewer gallons of fuel during a 24hour battle field day. Obviously, there are many other factors beside fuel consumption to consider when comparing tank powerpacks, but these figures do raise some interesting questions as to the choice of the gas turbine powerpack for the M1 Abrams. I would be interested in getting feedback from tankers concerning the advantages of the turbine vs. a diesel in actual combat situations. Does the performance and qualities of the gas turbine in the M1 justify it's increased fuel consumption?

UnEnculturate #2 Posted Jun 30 2013 - 22:31

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I've heard (I'm not an expert, that's for sure) that the gas turbine can run on anything flammable.  Also, it is much more quiet than tank-sized diesel engines.

ScorpionQueen #3 Posted Jun 30 2013 - 22:32

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Considering our country has enough problems with gas?

Maybe thats why the prices are so high >.>

Savage281 #4 Posted Jun 30 2013 - 22:33

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im a tanker. ive never had an issue running out of fuel. the engine is near silent, and if the trade off for that is higher fuel consumption.

in fact, the Leopard 2, which is more fuel efficient, has only a slightly further operational range, as the M1A2 fuel tanks are nearly double the size.

Savage281 #5 Posted Jun 30 2013 - 22:34

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View PostUnEnculturate, on Jun 30 2013 - 22:31, said:

I've heard (I'm not an expert, that's for sure) that the gas turbine can run on anything flammable.  Also, it is much more quiet than tank-sized diesel engines.

it is a multi fuel engine, i dont know the full list, but it can run on a WIDE variety of flammable liquids.

apache11 #6 Posted Jun 30 2013 - 22:44

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It's a turbine, and runs on primarily JP8. It can accept JP4, 100LL and some others, it's just going to need to be flushed more if they are used. Just like the Apache engines.

Walter_Sobchak #7 Posted Jun 30 2013 - 22:50

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One thing I always wondered about is the extremely hot exhaust that the gas turbine creates.  Was this ever a hinderance in urban combat situations while working closely with infantry?

apache11 #8 Posted Jun 30 2013 - 22:54

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View PostWalter_Sobchak, on Jun 30 2013 - 22:50, said:

One thing I always wondered about is the extremely hot exhaust that the gas turbine creates.  Was this ever a hinderance in urban combat situations while working closely with infantry?

Infantry know to stay well clear of the back of it when it is running. Now for the people who get too close to one driving on the streets at Ft. Hood? Haha, well, I've seen some paint bubble up on their hoods.

lord_pillowpants #9 Posted Jun 30 2013 - 23:23

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we used DF2 in Germany and JP8 in DS.

we were "told" in basic that the 500 gallons was sufficient for 24 total hours of combat ops...I noticed that some of ours were a bit thirstier than others however as well as some faster than others.

All I do know is that front left tank had to stay FULL....

that was the one that fed the heater. :P

The_Chieftain #10 Posted Jun 30 2013 - 23:43

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Quote

Does the performance and qualities of the gas turbine in the M1 justify it's increased fuel consumption?

Yes.

Fuel consumption isn't an issue. The Army knew what it was getting with the turbine, and the amount of fuel it would need to keep it going. We carry 500 gallons of fuel vs 300 in a Leo 2, so we don't really have to fill up more frequently, at least, now that we have the APU for stationary OPs. We do need more or bigger trucks to fill us, but that's the Army's problem, not the tanker's, and the Army has bought enough trucks to do the job. We can do that, we're the US Army and can solve any problem by application of dollars.

Savage281 #11 Posted Jun 30 2013 - 23:54

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View PostWalter_Sobchak, on Jun 30 2013 - 22:50, said:

One thing I always wondered about is the extremely hot exhaust that the gas turbine creates.  Was this ever a hinderance in urban combat situations while working closely with infantry?

but it feels really nice to stand in the exhaust when its cold outside lol. Infantry love for the tanks to be running when its cold out

Walter_Sobchak #12 Posted Jun 30 2013 - 23:57

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View PostThe_Chieftain, on Jun 30 2013 - 23:43, said:

Yes.

Fuel consumption isn't an issue. The Army knew what it was getting with the turbine, and the amount of fuel it would need to keep it going. We carry 500 gallons of fuel vs 300 in a Leo 2, so we don't really have to fill up more frequently, at least, now that we have the APU for stationary OPs. We do need more or bigger trucks to fill us, but that's the Army's problem, not the tanker's, and the Army has bought enough trucks to do the job. We can do that, we're the US Army and can solve any problem by application of dollars.

From the replies I have garnered so far, it certainly seems that the gas turbine is popular amongst those that have served with it.  Just to clarify, I was not suggesting in my original post that the army should have adopted a less capable tank powerplant simply to save money.  I am curious though about the various types of powerplants that drive tanks and their relative advantages and disadvantages.  In my opinon engines and drivetrains get less attention than they deserve in most tank related media, with most of the attention going toward discussions regarding guns and armor.

KnightmareX13 #13 Posted Jul 01 2013 - 01:18

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View Postapache11, on Jun 30 2013 - 22:54, said:

Infantry know to stay well clear of the back of it when it is running. Now for the people who get too close to one driving on the streets at Ft. Hood? Haha, well, I've seen some paint bubble up on their hoods.
don't let cop cars get too close or their decals will shrink, my dad worked for a company back in the '80s who where doing some government contracts, one was for the use of a small jet APU in a air filtration unit supposedly it was considered for use in tanks but anyways they were testing it and the cops showed up because of multiple noise complaints and the cops parked in the path of the apu's exhaust, during the course of the conversation they had with the companies vp my dad observed the cop cars decals shrink to about 6 inches in size and the cops never noticed at least no complaint about damage ever reached the company.

Walter_Sobchak #14 Posted Jul 01 2013 - 01:24

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View PostSavage281, on Jun 30 2013 - 23:54, said:

but it feels really nice to stand in the exhaust when its cold outside lol. Infantry love for the tanks to be running when its cold out

i suppose it certainly beats risking carbon monoxide poisoning to warm oneself over the fumes of one of the "gassers" back in the day.

collimatrix #15 Posted Jul 03 2013 - 01:22

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According to Technology of Tanks:


Quote

The design of the AGT-1500 appeared at first to have overcome the problem of
the high fuel consumption of gas turbines, for when it began to be tested in 1967 its
minimum specific fuel consumption was said to be 225 g/kWh, which is as low as
that of diesel engines (11.38). But in 1971, when more experience had been
acquired with two prototype engines, the claims became somewhat less optimistic.
The minimum specific fuel consumption was given as 274 g/kWh, but it was still
expected that it would be brought down to 255 g/kWh (11.39). In fact, when the
AGT-1500 was put into production its minimum specific fuel consumption turned
out to be 290 g/kWh. which is comparable to that of the spark-ignition gasoline
engines that had been discarded in favour of diesels because of their higher fuel
consumption.


So, it wasn't completely clear from day 1 that gas turbines would impart such a fuel consumption premium.


Edit:

The chapter goes on to explain that apples-to-apples comparisons of fuel consumption between turbines and piston engines are tough to get in a test stand.  Turbines suffer more from part loads, but piston engines suffer more from parasitic losses to the cooling apparatus.  So, there were plenty of people who were optimistic that tank turbines would have comparable fuel consumption to diesels, and with the information they had at the time this wasn't entirely unreasonable.

Daigensui #16 Posted Jul 03 2013 - 01:25

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View PostThe_Chieftain, on Jun 30 2013 - 23:43, said:

We can do that, we're the US Army and can solve any problem by application of dollars.

One of the best statements I've seen.

The_Chieftain #17 Posted Jul 03 2013 - 01:38

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View PostDaigensui, on Jul 03 2013 - 01:25, said:

One of the best statements I've seen.

On rare occasions, I have moments of wisdom.

steffen19k #18 Posted Jul 03 2013 - 02:25

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View PostWalter_Sobchak, on Jun 30 2013 - 22:27, said:

I was sorting through some documents and found this chart from 1979 detailing performance and fuel consumption between the various competing powerpack options back in 1979 when the XM1 program was being decided. The competitors listed on the document are:

AGT-1500/X1100-3b (gas turbine with allison transmission, current M1 powerpack)
MTU873/Renk 354 (this is the German Leopard 2 powerpack)
MTU873/X1100-1C (Leopard 2 engine with allison transmission)
AVCR-1360/X1100-1C (Continental Motors variable compression diesel with Allison transmission)
AVCR-1360/RK304 (Continental Motors variable compression diesel with German Renk transmission)
AVCR-1360/X1100-2 (Continental Motors variable compression diesel with different version of Allison Transmission)

As can be seen in the chart, the AVCR with the Renk transmission actually had faster speeds on grade than the gas turbine while consumming 136 fewer gallons of fuel during a 24hour battle field day. Obviously, there are many other factors beside fuel consumption to consider when comparing tank powerpacks, but these figures do raise some interesting questions as to the choice of the gas turbine powerpack for the M1 Abrams. I would be interested in getting feedback from tankers concerning the advantages of the turbine vs. a diesel in actual combat situations. Does the performance and qualities of the gas turbine in the M1 justify it's increased fuel consumption?

I find this to be very interesting. For the following reason:

IIRC the AVCR 1360 with X1100 1C was the package used in the XM 815 (GMs entry into the M1 design comp).

Furthermore I hear time and again from a Lt. Col. (Ret) who served at TACOM that the XM 815 was the answer to the prayers of everyone who had operated a tank in Vietnam.  In fact, DOD had already decided to go with the XM 815, but Chrysler managed to sway capitol hill  and get the decision reversed to favor Chrysler and its turbine engine tank.

Me personally, from my experiences in Iraq, the problems I saw with the Turbine engine were that it could only operate in sector for 14 hours at a stretch (and you had to start thinking about a refuel at 12 hours) and that if the temperature black flagged, you're oil viscosity would start dropping and you'd get low oil pressure warnings. Then there was the fact that the turbine engine requires very extremely clean air, on a level with HEPA filters for particulate filtration (AN ENGINE that required HEPA standards) this means that we went through a LOT of filter pack maintenance on an M1. At least 45 minutes of every hour we spent on maintenance was "banging out the V-Paks" to keep our turbine from being air starved.

If the Diesel engine could operate with lower maintenance under those conditions, I would gladly accept it. I love the M1, but its getting to be a 40 year old tank. Something is going to have to change.

And that's my two cents on this. Thank you for your time.

ryacko #19 Posted Jul 03 2013 - 03:52

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The turbine engine was designed to operate in the nightmare scenario of WWII, where your only fuel supply would be pumped from apartment bloc fuel oil or gas stations. Basically the future army was expected to largely live off the land. The Abrams performed well driving through the oil fires of the first Gulf War though.

The turbine provides more torque at low speeds, starts faster (no turbolag), and produces no smoke while running. The turbine is quieter (10 to 20 decibels quieter). Although a diesel is a better source of power when idling, although the Abrams uses an auxiliary power unit.

The turbine engine is more reliable, about 4 to 5 times more operating hours between depot overhaul then a diesel. 1000 hours for a new turbine engine. The turbine is smaller then a diesel as well, allowing more fuel to be carried.

The LV-100-5 turbine would consume 435 gallons per notional battleday (naturally the definition of a battlefield day changed), a 25% improvement over the AGT-1500. The LV-100-5 was nixed with the Crusader, but I think the AGT-1500's fuel consumption was improved by 10% through electronic fuel injection.


No, I didn't serve in the US army, all my information is off the internet and books. And I typed this for a second time, curse Chrome!

Edited by ryacko, Jul 03 2013 - 03:59.


ket101 #20 Posted Jul 03 2013 - 04:20

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Just curious, does the Abrams' turbine use exhaust re-circulation to reduce fuel consumption?