The Chrysler Town & Country Natrium
The Chrysler Town & Country Natrium, a fuel-cell concept vehicle running on clean, nonflammable, and recyclable sodium borohydride fuel, participated in a ride-and-drive display program at the Pentagon at the request of acting Secretary of the Navy. This program took place as part of Earth Day celebrations and was an opportunity for top military officials to experience the advantages of the Chrysler Natrium fuel-cell vehicle.
The Natrium was the first fuel-cell powered vehicle built to operate on sodium borohydride, a fuel made from borax which is a mineral available in abundant supply in the Western United States. In the Natrium minivan, this technology delivers the environmental benefits of a fuel-cell vehicle without the loss of cargo or passenger space, while providing a range of 300 miles, longer than any other fuel-cell vehicle. Hydrogen is extracted from sodium borohydride to power the fuel cell. Sodium borohydride is a compound chemically related to borax, the naturally-occurring substance commonly used in laundry soap.
* Zero dependency on oil for propulsion
* Cargo and passenger space is not compromised for on-board storage of hydrogen
* Byproduct can be rehydrogenated and used again as fuel
* Near-silent operation
* Capable of producing 110- and 240-volt electricity
* Greater driving range than other fuel-cell vehicles
* Potential for zero emissions of smog-forming and greenhouse gasses.
"Chrysler ... has a long and proud history of supporting our national defense efforts," said Bernard I Robertson, Senior Vice President, Research and Regulatory Affairs. "This unique technology could have great benefits for the military: in particular, it is nonflammable, greatly improving safety in battle zones, and the main ingredient can be transported as a dry powder, dramatically reducing the enormous logistical demands of fueling our military in advanced battle settings. In addition, the greater fleet fuel efficiency would greatly reduce the amount of fuel used by our armed forces--fuel that can cost hundreds of dollars per gallon to deliver to the battlefield. And this technology produces zero smog-forming and greenhouse gases, contributing to a cleaner environment. Finally, sodium borohydride has the potential to reduce or eliminate our dependence on oil for our transportation needs."
The U.S. armed forces have expressed interest in alternative-fuel vehicles in order to stretch the military's mobility into the future with improved fuel economy and range. Benefits include a decreased dependency on oil which significantly decreases cost of operation and increases the range and reach of individual task forces.
Concept cars are often made so a car’s feel can be evaluated, problems can be foreseen, and reactions of the public can be judged. Some concepts test specific ideas, colors, controls, or materials — either subtle or out of proportion, to hide what’s being tested. Some are created to help designers think “out of the box.” The Challenger, Prowler, PT Cruiser, and Viper were all tested as production-based concepts dressed up to hide the production intent.