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The Green Garage is excited to report that Argonne National Laboratory has signed a licensing agreement with General Motors for the automaker to test its patented composite cathode material that could improve lithium-ion battery life and energy storage density! The material could allow batteries to hold their charge longer, have a longer total life and charge at higher voltages. GM’s interest in the material could help to improve the efficiency of its next-generation of electric vehicles.

The New York Times recently interviewed GM spokesperson, Rob Peterson, who explained that a few years ago GM “started down the path of trying to understand batteries as well as [it] possibly could.” He went on to say that understanding new developments in battery technology will determine “who becomes the leader in electric vehicles.”  GM has the largest battery test lab facility in the industry and views battery leadership as a core competency of the company.

Being the first American car company to license use of Argonne’s technology puts GM in a very good position to potentially improve the performance of future electric models.

We are thrilled that Argonne and GM have a strong EcoCAR presence because both companies, like all those involved in the competition, are on the cutting edge of advanced vehicle technologies!

Argonne battery researcher perfecting the novel material

The experts have voted and the 2011 North American Car of the Year is… General Motors’ Chevy Volt! Vehicles were judged by a group of 49 auto journalists who considered innovation, performance design and safety among other factors. The winner was announced today at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Although this is an amazing accomplishment, the Chevy Volt is not new to the spotlight.  It was named car of the year by Automobile Magazine and Motor Trend and was also recognized as the Green Car of the Year at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November!

Image courtesy of GM

“It’s a great honor to be recognized as the North American Car of the Year,” said GM CEO Dan Akerson. “Since development began, we believed the Volt had the potential to transform the automotive industry. Today, the Volt is the first electric vehicle to win the prestigious North American Car of the Year award, and the first vehicle ever to receive the industry’s highest automotive, technology, and environmental recognitions.”

Many believe the Volt is setting the pace for the future, what do you think? Share your comments below!

Learn lots more about the Volt by checking out: 10 Facts about the Volt on

With the start of 2011, comes the announcement of the North American Car and Truck of the Year (NACOTY). Each January, a group of automotive journalists from an array of publications come together to select the most outstanding vehicles of the year. The votes are now in and for the first time in the award’s eighteen-year history, all of the finalists in the car category – the Chevy Volt, the Hyundai Sonata and the Nissan Leaf, are at least part electric. The Chevy Volt is a plug-in hybrid, the Hyundai Sonata is a hybrid and the Leaf is 100% electric.

The Chevy Volt

The NACOTY award goes to a vehicle that is either new or has been substantially changed from its prior model. The panel of judges assesses the vehicles based on innovation, performance, safety and driver satisfaction. Another key requirement is that the vehicle has projected annual sales of at least 5,000 units in North America.

This year’s finalists demonstrate that the future of eco-friendly cars is bright and that hybrids continue to gain acceptance. The winners of the North American Car and Truck of the Year will be announced at the North American International Auto Show on January 10th.

Where Are They Now this week highlights Mel Corrigan (previously Mel Fox), a Penn State and Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition (AVTC) alum who has spent her impressive academic career focused on Fuel Science research which ultimately led to her current position working on one of the most exciting innovations in vehicle technology.

Mel Corrigan began her undergraduate studies in chemical engineering at Penn State-Altoona.  Throughout her time at Altoona, she participated in the Society for Automotive Engineering Mini Baja competition.  During her junior year, she moved to the Penn State-University Park campus, where she became involved in undergraduate research studies focusing on diesel exhaust aftertreatment.

While studying at Penn State, Mel interned at Toyota Motor Mfg. in Georgetown, Kentucky in their Facilities Controls Engineering department where she compiled weekly utility consumption reports for the nine plants at the facility.  At that time, Mel also took part in the Energy Team, examining methods of improving energy consumption for vehicle manufacturing processes.

In 2002, Mel obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering at Wayne State University where she worked in an engine lab studying diesel combustion, She also participated in a National Science Foundation (NSF) project to create safety-related exercises for chemical engineering textbooks.

Mel entered graduate school at Penn State in 2003, starting with a Master’s of Science in Fuel Science.  Her research focused on performing three-dimensional computational fluid dynamics of combustion in a coal-fired boiler.

After completing her Master’s degree, Mel decided to continue her studies and obtain her Ph. D. in Fuel Science.  She shifted gears in her research, moving from modeling to experiments and then began studying the effects of intake-induced turbulence on the combustion characteristics of hydrogen assisted natural gas combustion in a spark-ignition engine.

Mel (Fox) Corrigan

Mel became involved with the Penn State Advanced Vehicle Technologies team during Challenge X. During her graduate studies, Mel received a two-year fellowship that required her to do weekly science outreach in K-12 classrooms.  This program, GREATT (Graduate Research and Education in Advanced Transportation Technologies), soon lead her to become the controls team leader for Penn State team in Year Two and the overall team leader during Year Three.

After completing a twelve-week internship in the Powertrain Systems Research group at General Motors during which she lead a project sampling and characterizing particulate matter from diesel combustion, Mel landed her first job with GM.

Mel now works as a Battery System Integration Engineer for the Chevy Volt.  She continues to support advanced vehicle technology competitions and acts as a judge for EcoCAR at workshops and competitions.  EcoCAR is not only thrilled to utilize Mel’s professional expertise, but also grateful to have her perspective as a former competitor as EcoCAR ushers in Year Three.

Last week, Virginia Tech’s Hybrid Electric Vehicle Team (HEVT) sent a correspondent to the 2010 Washington D.C. International Auto Show which was in conjunction with the annual Electric Drive Transportation Association (EDTA) conference. Legislators, manufacturers, suppliers and the general public attended the show to see the latest, greatest and greenest technology in the automotive business. Electric vehicle charging stations, plug-in hybrids, clean diesels and all-electrics were among the technologies being showcased.

Patrick Walsh with the HEVT EcoCAR poster at the auto show

At the show, HEVT’s team leader, Patrick Walsh, presented a poster on the team’s EcoCAR research and educated the public about its GM-donated, student-designed plug-in hybrid.

“People were very impressed that such an important competition was taking place at the academic level,” said Patrick, who is a mechanical engineering graduate student at Virginia Tech. “Green technology is a big focus in the auto industry, so EcoCAR’s mission to reduce the environmental impact of vehicles ties in perfectly.”

In between poster presentations and plenary sessions, HEVT’s correspondent was able to take a look at a production-intent Chevrolet Volt. The Volt and other cool vehicles at the auto show served as added motivation for HEVT to build a winner for competition in Yuma!

The Volt!

Chevy Volt on display at 2010 Detroit Auto Show

Last week at the 2010 Detroit Auto Show, General Motors’ Vice Chairman, Bob Lutz, announced that GM would make a 100% battery-electric version of the Chevy Volt by removing the gas engine and expanding the battery pack.

It is uncertain when it will happen, but exciting news nonetheless! It will be interesting to find out the vehicle’s electric range and estimated price.

What are your thoughts on GM’s idea of making a full-function electric vehicle?

Another big story that ties back to the EcoCAR program is Fisker Automotive choosing EcoCAR competition sponsor, A123Systems, as the battery supplier to power Fisker’s upcoming plug-in hybrid luxury vehicle, the Fisker Karma!

A123Systems was up against some hefty competition including, Advanced Lithium Power and Ener1 subsidiary EnerDel, so this was a big win for the company.

Production of the Karma is scheduled to begin this year, so keep your eye out for the cool car below!

The Fisker Karma

On the eve of announcing the final winners (see post below) we captured the EcoCAR Challenge participants at their zaniest. Keep your eyes open for the answers to “You know you’re an engineer when…” and the “First thing I ever tore apart…” Also, don’t miss the gorgeous girls of EcoCAR, the “chick magnet” and shirtless man. Yes, this is a serious contest, but clearly this next generation of talented engineers likes to have fun inside their green garages!


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ohiostate_logo1The Ohio State University is no stranger to national championships, but today’s EcoCAR Challenge victory was a first. Actually an international competition (including teams and sponsors from Canada), the EcoCAR Challenge didn’t showcase touchdown runs or fast breaks, but it did feature world-class talent. In fact, with all due respect to all OSU’s student athletes, the prowess this team demonstrated over the past year designing their Extended Range Electric Vehicle (EREV) may someday change the world.

Although the EcoCAR Challenge can only crown one winner for the first year, congratulations are also due to second-place winner University of Victoria and third-place winner Mississippi State University.
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September 2020