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Army shows off alternative-energy vehicles

Saving on gas bill crucial since we're burning 750,000 gallons a day in Iraq.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Hybrid tankers that can power an entire airfield. Electric chariots that can take soldiers to their destinations. Fuel cell-powered all terrain vehicles that can move in near silence.

These are among alternative energy vehicles being developed by the Army, which showed off a dozen prototypes Thursday at Elmendorf Air Force Base.

The open house was the show-and-tell portion of a four-day symposium co-hosted by the Army to explore clean energy sources for and from Alaska.

Among the vehicles on display was the tanklike hybrid-electric diesel truck developed with Oshkosh, Wis.-based Oshkosh Truck Corp., which builds the Army's large off-road vehicles as well as civilian fire and refuse trucks. Painted in camouflage tones, the Oshkosh HEMTT consumes less fuel and puts out reduced emissions compared with its traditionally fueled counterparts.

The vehicle also can produce 350 kilowatts of electricity while its 505 horsepower engine idles. The company tested the vehicle's onboard generator at the Whittman Airfield in Oshkosh, providing lighting for the control tower and a 14,000-foot runway for two hours. It was a hit - signifying numerous applications for the military and civilians alike, said company engineer Chris Yakes.