The first wave of student vehicles arrived at TRC over the weekend
Over this past weekend, several EcoCAR 2 teams traveled to East Liberty, Ohio for the beginning of the March Emissions Testing Event. Held at the Transportation Research Center from March 8th to March 19th, EcoCAR 2 teams will be offered the opportunity to gather high-quality test data from their vehicles during eight hours of emissions and fuel economy testing in a controlled laboratory environment. Additional emissions and fuel economy testing will take place at Argonne National Laboratory’sAdvanced Powertrain Research Facility from March 25th to March 29th.
Kevin Stutenberg, Argonne employee and former AVTC alumnus, runs baseline dyno testing on the Chevrolet Malibu
Before teams have a chance to participate in dynamometer testing they will be subjected to a Safety and Technical Inspection. Safety Tech includes a variety of key checks on vehicle hardware, electrical systems, safety systems and controls functionality performed by EcoCAR 2 organizers from Argonne National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy, General Motors and New Eagle.
Safety tech inspectors take a look at a student vehicle
Each vehicle is inspected against a rigorous 300 point checklist, covering all aspects from the powertrain integration to the interior fit and finish.
Check back on the Green Garage Blog over the next three weeks to learn more about the March Emissions Testing Event! In the meantime, check out the competition’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the latest updates.
The EcoEagles have increased their efficiency exponentially this past semester throughout the internal cogs that make the EcoCAR 2 family thrive. The business and communication teams are adapting within their own designated cogs as they continue working toward their team deliverables and the engineers got the vehicle running in all-electric mode and paired it with their working diesel engine.
They are now in the process of perfecting the control systems and many other small mechanical details that need attention before the car reaches the target of consumer-ready. One small example is the welds needed to integrate the electric-mechanical fuel system efficiently.
The EcoEagles vehicle performing acceleration testing on the Embry-Riddle campus
Yuchi Meng, mechanical team lead, explains a current issue faced by the mechanical team, “After welding aluminum, it’s really hard to test for leaks.” This pertains particularly to the vehicle in its testing state. On the dynamometer, there are no real-time road vibrations; everything is perfectly smooth. However, once variables are added, like potholes, a leak may occur somewhere. The only way to know for sure is to perform real road tests.
“Reliability and maintainability are goals that the team has internally set for itself and that these two things could go a long ways to helping us win the competition,” said team leader Chester Rowe.
Emphaszing the EcoEagles’ overall attention to detail are the precautionary measures completed by the engineers who perform daily maintenance on the vehicle. The engineers have been equipped with high-voltage safety training, offered by SAE.
The EcoEagles had a few minor setbacks coming into Year Three, putting them behind in the competition. Though, with a little bit of elbow grease—and a few all-nighters—the EcoEagles were able to soar alongside of the competition’s leaders. In one semester, the EcoEagles have essentially completed tasks that should have taken them much longer to complete. This can be attributed to the hard work exhibited by the entire team.
“This is a huge project that takes a huge commitment,” Chester claims. And the holidays were no exception, being that several EcoEagles stayed around town for a majority of the previous winter break to complete their team objectives. However, the EcoEagles team is back in town and gearing up for another great semester.
Featuring more than 45 students from various majors and academic levels, the University of Washington EcoCAR 2 Team is working together to build a parallel through the road (PTTR) biodiesel electric hybrid.
The team thought long and hard about which type of fuel to choose for the EcoCAR 2 competition and decided on biodiesel during Year One. The team chose this fuel for its superior energy density and for the expanding importance of diesels in North America, but it also came with a big cost: emissions that are substantially worse than traditional gasoline.
However, with technology from a German multinational engineering and electronics company called BOSCH, the team has been able to meet and even exceed the competition’s emissions standards.
The “Denoxtronic Exhaust Gas Treatment” uses a series of chemical reactions in the exhaust stream to convert harmful mono-nitrogen oxides (NOx) into harmless water and nitrogen, virtually eliminating the drawbacks of the biodiesel fuel. Thanks to the sponsorship of BOSCH, the University of Washington team can live up to their “eco” name. Thanks BOSCH!
Learn more about how BOSCH has helped the University of Washington team:
Year Three of the EcoCAR 2 competition is all about getting the vehicles production-ready. In order to reach this goal, the Colorado State University Vehicle Innovation Team (CSU VIT) is continuing to develop and update the hardware and software they’ve integrated into their Chevrolet Malibu H2eV. The four members of the Year Three control systems team at CSU are responsible for improving the drivability of the vehicle, as well as the routing and workability of its low voltage (LV) system.
The controls systems team hard at work
In order to improve the drivability of the H2eV, the team will follow the appropriate modeling and testing procedures outlined by General Motors (GM) and Argonne National Laboratory (ANL). First, the vehicle model will be modified based on on-road data collected at the CSU test track and the Year Two final competition at the Yuma Desert Proving Grounds (YDPG). Once the accuracy of the vehicle model has been verified through software in the loop (SIL) testing, it can be used to make appropriate controls changes that improve the drivability of the vehicle. Any changes made to the supervisory controller are first tested in the SIL environment, and once validated within the model they are implemented into the vehicle controller for further testing.
On the hardware side, the team needs to reduce the 12V accessory loads of the vehicle while improving the functionality of the LV wiring harness itself. By ensuring the system’s auxiliary components are turned on and off efficiently during the different operational modes of the H2eV, the total amount of energy used can be decreased. The control systems team is also focusing on optimizing the wiring strategy within the vehicle, which will help improve the serviceability of the LV system while decreasing the footprint of the wiring harness.
By working on the drivability and the LV system of the vehicle, the CSU control systems team is improving the overall functionality of the H2eV. The team will continue to work on both software and hardware modifications to get the vehicle ready for dynamometer testing at ANL at the end of March.
The Purdue EcoMakers present at the South Shore Clean Cities Annual Meeting
The Purdue EcoMakers went to Merrillville, Indiana on February 18th for the annual meeting of South Shore Clean Cities. Twenty-eight different businesses and organizations attended the annual meeting and set up booths to inform everyone about their products. The event gave the team the chance to connect with alternative fuel innovators from across Northern Indiana as well as an opportunity to teach others about the EcoCAR 2 competition. After the initial networking portion of the event, the team was treated to an outstanding lunch and a presentation from the Executive Director of Clean Cities, Carl Lisek, representatives from Senator Donnelly’s office, and representatives from Senator Coats’ office. The presentation included member highlights from the past year as well as information on upcoming 2014 events. The team thanks Clean Cities for the opportunity to attend their annual meeting and looks forward to continuing to work together!
Team members Chris Reid, Lester Dolmos, and Justin Bower facilitate the dyno testing
Now that we’re a few months into 2014, many EcoCAR 2 team members have begun to feel the pressure of the upcoming Year Three Competition in June. The CSULA team is hard at work getting their vehicle ready for the next milestone: dynamometer testing. As they continue to update their controls algorithms for the rear powertrain, the team’s mechanical and electrical engineers are examining every little detail so they can have a safe and reliable vehicle. One of their main projects is building jigs and mockups of the ducting necessary to cool down both the energy storage system (ESS) and Magna motor.
At the same time, CSULA’s engineering and business departments are working together to create connections with aftermarket companies to purchase rims and tires. By replacing the rims and getting low resistance tires, the team hopes to not only improve in fuel economy but also lower the overall weight of the vehicle by 20 pounds. The team hopes that this weight reduction, in conjunction with over 20 pounds of electrical tape and wiring removed from the vehicle, a lighter aluminum fuel tank and other changes, will offset the added weight of the vehicle’s extra motor.
The University of Waterloo Alternative Fuels Team (UWAFT) is converting a stock 2013 Chevrolet Malibu into an plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. UWAFT’s powertrain employs two TM4 electric motors to power the front and rear wheels, providing a combined 281 HP. The motors use power from an 18.9kWh A123 lithium-ion battery pack. When the battery pack is depleted, the vehicle can be plugged into a wall socket to recharge. For longer trips where charging may be inconvenient or unavailable, the vehicle utilizes an engine and generator to create electricity for the TM4 motors and recharge the A123 battery pack.
The UWAFT team working on the ethanol hybrid powertrain
The vehicle uses a modified 2.4L General Motors engine that runs on E85 Ethanol to power its TM4 electric generator. To make this possible, UWAFT had to make a number of changes to the stock Chevrolet Malibu:
First, a custom fuel tank was designed and fabricated out of stainless steel. This was necessary because ethanol can break down conventional fiberglass and plastic fuel tanks.
Second, UWAFT designed and built a custom aluminum transfer case that connects the engine to the generator using a belt drive. This transfer case covers the belt drive while also acting as a structural mount for the engine and generator.
Finally, UWAFT had to completely redesign the layout of the engine compartment. This redesign included rotating the engine 180 degrees, designing custom mounting brackets for the front powertrain components and completing extensive analysis to ensure that the safety of the stock vehicle was not compromised by these new components.
By using ethanol as a secondary energy source, UWAFT will be able to extend the range of their hybrid electric Chevrolet Malibu to over 300 miles. Additionally, the vehicle’s use of bio-ethanol – which can be produced from corn, sugarcane and more – will reduce its carbon footprint.
Freescale is a key sponsor of the EcoCAR 2 competition in general and of Wayne State University (WSU) in particular. In addition to providing components to the team, Freescale also offers support and training for the team’s members. Freescale is a designer and producer of semiconductor devices that specifically focuses on microcontrollers and microprocessors, which are the brains behind electronic control units.
During the design phase of Year One Wayne State had a problem when its supervisory controllers were not able to drive the necessary loads. John Cotner from Freescale worked closely with the team to determine the necessary specifications for the various loads and recommended analog driver components. He then helped the team design the loads into the high-side and low-side driver enclosures.
One of the main benefits of student-sponsor collaboration is the exposure students get to the real-world auto industry. Real designs, especially in the automotive industry, aren’t made from the ground up – instead, they start with a preexisting set of components and solutions. Cotner explained that EcoCAR 2 students have a really big advantage when they graduate because they have had experience solving real-world design problems. Engineering classes and projects typically aren’t conducted under real-world constraints like an EcoCAR 2 vehicle is – knowing how to deal with those constraints gives students a real edge.
Learn more about the collaboration between Freescale and the Wayne State EcoCAR 2 team by watching this video:
For more than 13 years, Argonne has hosted an IGED event to educate young women on science, engineering, and technology. This year, more than 75 Chicagoland area middle school girls attended the event. The students were able to take tours of Argonne, get paired with a mentor for the day, and take part in hands-on demonstrations presented by different divisions within Argonne. The students also heard from expert science video host and writer Joanne Manaster.
The EcoCAR organizing team was present with a hands-on electric motor demonstration for the attendees. Thanks to the additional efforts of the Wayne State EcoCAR 2 Team, the demonstration allowed the middle school students to assemble a simple wire circuit to simulate how an electric motor works. Lead Technical Coordinator Brian Benoy also was in attendance and led a “Little Bits” circuit demonstration that showed how circuits are used in everyday items like phones, TVs, and computers.
Take a look at some of the photos from the event below and share your comments about IGED or other National Engineers Week events!