The Center for Automotive Research [CAR] at the Ohio State University was abuzz with activity Tuesday as EcoCar 2, a competition that challenges universities from across the nation to reduce the environmental impact of vehicles without compromising real world performance or safety, got underway in Columbus.
"EcoCAR 2: Plugging in to the Future," a three-year collegiate student engineering competition that focus on vehicle integration of advanced propulsion technologies that was established by the U.S. Department of Energy and General Motors—providing production vehicles, vehicle components, seed money, technical mentoring and operational support—is managed by Argonne National Laboratories [ANL], its research and development facility, which will provide competition management, team evaluation and technical and logistical support.
Industry sponsors also provide participating teams with leading-edge math simulation software, automotive propulsion systems, programs and mentoring support to students.
The collaborative of partnerships among government, private industry and academia has already levered $745 million worth of software and hardware from outside sponsors to support the universities and the EcoCAR 2 programs, information provide to media said.
The OSU car will combine both electricity and ethanol (E85) fuel to power the vehicle in three different operating modes, which include an all-electric mode and two modes that combine the E85 engine and the battery packs in both a series and parallel modes.
Jesse Alley, one of the on-site ANL team members, said the competition is as much about training a new workforce for new cars as it is the cars themselves.
Watch Jesse explain EcoCAR 2 on 60 Seconds Ohio at YouTube.
General Motors gave each of the 15 university teams a 2013 Chevrolet Malibu, a mid-sized sedan, to design and integrate advanced vehicle technology powertrain and controls in order to develop their vehicle solutions.
The competition is designed to be a "hands-on engineering experience, exposure to world-class organizations and knowledge sharing in a competitive, team-oriented environment."
Among the participating universities in the Big Ten are OSU, Purdue, Penn State. Others include well known institutions like California State, Los Angeles, while lesser known schools like Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology are also in the hunt for the prestige and bragging rights that come from winning a contest where a perfect score would net the winner 1,000 points.
The engineering tests the vehicles go through are similar to tests GM conducts to determine a prototype's readiness for production. ANL has developed GREET—Greenhouse gas, Regulated Emissions and Energy in Transportation—a model that will be used to assess a well-to-wheel analysis of the greenhouse impacts of each technology approach the teams select.
In Columbus, the weeklong competition gives students a chance to demonstrate the vehicles so when compared to the production gasoline vehicles, they meet or exceed the following goals:
- Reduce petroleum energy consumption on the basis of total fuel cycle analysis;
- Reduce fuel consumption;
- Reduce well-to-wheel and greenhouse gas emissions;
- Reduce criteria tailpipe emissions;
- Maintain consumer acceptability in the areas of performance, utility and safety.
A Penn State team member told CGE the cars have been worked for going on six months or more, but because the full range driving range is only about 200 miles, the cars were shipped via trailer to CAR at OSU.
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