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It has been a busy week at the EPA’s National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory (NVFEL) in Ann Arbor, MI as five teams were able to complete several dyno testing sessions on both the 2WD dyno and 4WD dyno.

The Ohio State team was excited to use the 4WD chassis dyno at EPA because they only have 2WD dyno capabilities at their university.

“With the 4WD dyno, some of the major focuses of our testing have been tuning our electrically heated catalyst control and some engine transient testing on the EPA drive cycles,” said Ohio State controls team lead John Kruckenberg.

The Ohio State team was able to analyze their catalyst control in hopes of improving their emissions of cold starts and getting a better baseline for how their vehicle performs on the road.

The Ohio State team using the 4WD chassis dyno

“In the second four-hour drive cycle, we were able to complete the official EPA certification dyno test so we could compare our previous test cycles to that of our electric drive mode to see how the vehicle runs on a standard cycle.”

Other teams, like Mississippi State, decided to test their urea-injection system that reduces NOx emissions in diesel fuel. This type of testing helps determine the optimal amount of urea to inject into the system for emissions purposes.

Mississippi State team members testing their EcoCAR

“You must inject sufficient amounts of urea to reduce the NOx emissions to a suitable level; however, if an excessive amount of urea is injected, this will cause ammonia to accumulate in the catalyst potentially resulting in harm to the system,” said Mississippi State Faculty Advisor Marshall Molen.

The Mississippi State team conducting additional tests

The University of Waterloo was also able to complete several dyno sessions this week at EPA. Their fuel cell plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (FC-PHEV) is just one of two in this competition.

“We ran a combination of urban and highway cycles just to get a baseline for vehicle performance and to be able to data log our powertrain,” said University of Waterloo team leader Michael Giannikouris.

“We also had the opportunity to get to do custom acceleration tests that allowed us to tune certain controls parameters on the dyno.”As the Group A dyno testing came to a close, both students and advisors agreed that this workshop was really beneficial.
“It has been great to work with EPA personnel and equipment,” said Will Dickerson, team member for Mississippi State. “We are able to get a better understanding of the kind of testing procedures that are relevant to today’s emissions testing.”

The University of Waterloo Alternative Fuels Team (UWAFT) recently took their EcoCAR outreach campaign into the community to talk with hockey fans about electric vehicles.  The UWAFT students presented an EcoCAR exhibit to fans at the Kitchener Rangers OHL hockey game on February 6th.  Kitchener is a neighboring city to Waterloo in South West Ontario.  A sold-out arena of 6,600 people attended the game and more than 200 fans stopped at the EcoCAR exhibit to learn about electric vehicles.

EcoCAR volunteers, Tom Posavad and Paul Nowosielski, greeted by the Kitchener Rangers team mascot during the game.

During this event, UWAFT highlighted the ways in which it has maintained and enhanced the driving performance of its GM-donated vehicle, while significantly improving its emissions performance.  Overall, people that visited the EcoCAR exhibit were surprised to learn that UWAFT has been able to design an electric vehicle that will meet the acceleration capabilities (0 to 60 km/h in 10 seconds) of a stock vehicle, while removing all harmful tailpipe emissions.

Tom Posavad, explaining the environmental benefits of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

The fall term of Year Three in the EcoCAR Challenge brought with it significant milestones for the University of Waterloo Alternative Fuels Team (UWAFT).  Without a doubt, the most notable milestone was the first successful start of their GM-donated fuel cell stack. Days later, GM engineers traveled to the University of Waterloo campus to assess the progress of the team. This was an exciting event for UWAFT engineers, as they were able to obtain valuable feedback from GM powertrain professionals. With the fuel cell up and running, the team members are now waiting on the installation of the DC-to-DC converter that will bring everything together and allow the vehicle to run in hybrid mode.

There were two other major achievements that occurred during the fall term. First, the complete redesign of their high-voltage battery pack using A123 donated battery modules, and second, the development of a custom-built DC-to-DC converter. With these milestones in the rearview, UWAFT looks forward to the EcoCAR Spring Workshop in March at the U.S. EPA facilities in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

For a further technical update, including footage of the first successful start of the GM- donated fuel cell stack at Waterloo, check out the video below:

For the third consecutive year, the University of Waterloo’s Alternative Fuels Team (UWAFT) talked about their EcoCAR accomplishments with youth, parents, teachers and media at the Go Eng Girl and EcoBuzz events in southwestern Ontario. Go Eng Girl is an annual event that provides an opportunity for girls (ages 11 to 14 years old) from across Ontario to visit their local university and learn about the wonderful world of engineering.  Throughout the day, the young girls and their parents got to meet some of the female engineers working on Waterloo’s EcoCAR.

UWAFT team member, Allyson Giannikouris, explains hydrogen fuel cell technology to a father and daughter at the Go Eng Girl event in Waterloo, Ontario.

At the EcoBuzz conference, UWAFT gave local high school students the opportunity to participate in an interactive EcoCAR game and learn about the benefits of hydrogen fuel cell technology.

Eric Mallia, UWAFT’s Outreach Coordinator, distributing EcoCAR literature at the EcoBuzz event in Brampton, Ontario.

UWAFT’s main objective at these two youth-oriented events was to articulate the differences between the internal combustion engine and a hydrogen fuel cell system. The video shown below was used to help educate youth about the chemistry of fuel cells, which are needed to generate electricity for the team’s EcoCAR.

As the University of Waterloo Alternative Fuels Team (UWAFT) enters Year Three of the EcoCAR Challenge, it is excited to refine the optimization strategy in its hydrogen fuel cell plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (FC-PHEV).  Although the team’s vehicle did not have enough power to run the dynamic events at the end of Year Two in Yuma, Arizona, UWAFT presented well in static events and had a strong showing in its outreach deliverables. They finished 8th overall in the final competition points for Year Two and continue to make big strides.

While in Yuma, the team took advantage of the extraordinary resources, including the equipment and expertise provided by the competition sponsors, which helped them pass safety inspection and fill their vehicle’s hydrogen tanks. Now able to fill the fuel tanks of its functioning all-electric vehicle, the team is in a good position to build a strong campaign in Year Three.

To catch a glimpse of the UWAFT vehicle running all-EV, check out the video below:

This week’s Where Are They Now post features Christopher Haliburton, a 2008 graduate of the University of Waterloo, Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition (AVTC) participant (and now supporter) and current GM validation engineer for the Chevy Volt.

While attending the University of Waterloo, Chris Haliburton participated in Challenge X, the advanced vehicle technology competition (AVTC) program preceding EcoCAR. As part of the University of Waterloo Alternative Fuels Team (UWAFT), he was able to work on mechanical integration design, systems modeling and rapid vehicle prototyping using the Powertrain Systems Analysis Toolkit developed by Argonne National Laboratory. In the final year of Challenge X, Chris became co-team leader and controls lead, helping to organize and lead a team of more than 20 students to successfully convert the Chevy Equinox into a dedicated fuel cell vehicle.

During his Challenge X experience, Chris was able to learn about General Motors’ Vehicle Design Process, which helped him obtain a job with GM upon graduation. Chris now works with GM’s Hybrid Controls and Integration department at the Milford Proving Grounds in Michigan.

Currently, Chris is a validation engineer for the Chevy Volt, where he maintains a fleet of mule vehicles from a software/hardware perspective.  He is also responsible for vehicle integration by updating software and troubleshooting issues daily as well as during initial vehicle builds.   Chris still likes to help out with EcoCAR, often participating as a judge during competition finals.

Chris has demonstrated that with a lot of hard work in the AVTC program while in school, it’s possible to land a pretty sweet job working on the next advanced vehicle technology coming into production.

The University of Waterloo Alternative Fuels Team (UWAFT) was happy to be an exhibitor at the Junior FIRST LEGO League (Jr.FLL) Expo, as part of the Youth Appreciation Week, in Livingston, New Jersey this summer

Jr. FLL is a global robotics program for children ages six to nine. This year, there were more than 40 expos hosted by local organizations from the U.S., Canada and Europe. UWAFT was one of only two university teams presenting at the event. UWAFT’s exhibit included a five minute video aimed at young children to show them how university students are finding innovative uses for alternative fuels, focusing on their EcoCAR work. 

The event attracted media attention and generated UWAFT and EcoCAR coverage – you can read the article on, here. Congratulations, UWAFT!

Check out the team’s amazing video that was on display at the Jr. FLL Expo below! The video includes several images that depict how the UWAFT EcoCAR works, one-on-one interviews with key members of the team and a sneak peek into their garage. Thanks for the inside look, UWAFT! We look forward to seeing what you have in store for Year Three.

For more than a decade, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has honored an incoming and long-term faculty advisor within the DOE Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition (AVTC) program that best promotes the AVTC goals, objectives, and activities within their university. Advisors receive a $10,000 cash prize toward their AVTC program as well as special recognition from the NSF.

The NSF recognizes that the role of the faculty advisors is paramount to a team’s success. They provide not only the knowledge and education that is fundamental to the student’s understanding of the program deliverables, but they provide the guidance and leadership that keeps the student teams on course throughout the program. These awards recognize advisors who have successfully incorporated the EcoCAR goals, objectives, and activities into their undergraduate engineering curriculum and the benefits students receive as a result of the EcoCAR program are of special importance.

Dr. Roydon Fraser

The first advisor we’d like to congratulate is Dr. Roydon Fraser, Professor of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering from the University of Waterloo who was awarded the 2010 NSF Outstanding Long-term Faculty Advisor Award for his 15 years of dedicated service to the AVTC program.  Since 1996, Dr. Fraser has transformed the University of Waterloo Alternative Fuels Team (UWAFT) into one of the largest student teams on campus. The team has generated such prestige that many students come to UW just to join the team. Dr. Fraser provides critical administrative support to ensure tools, equipment and funding necessary to implement project designs are available to his students and helps them to think critically and innovatively to push students to their highest potential. Dr. Fraser has supervised about 650 design projects throughout his tenure in the AVTC program and has successfully led his teams to multiple top four place finishes in the Propane and Ethanol Vehicle competitions as well as the Challenge X and current EcoCAR Challenge series’.

Dr. Fraser receives the 2010 NSF Outstanding Long-term Faculty Advisor Award from Connie Bezanson, DOE's AVTC Program Manager.

And notably, this advisor is recognized for his tireless pursuit of difficult vehicle architectures – fielding a dedicated fuel cell vehicle in the last two competition series. In fact, Waterloo’s hydrogen fuel cell entry in the 2007 Challenge X series is the first dedicated fuel cell vehicle in AVTC history to successfully complete every scored dynamic event! Here are just some of the statements from his students:

  • “Dr. Fraser provided a wealth of knowledge about both the vehicle competition and the bigger picture of sustainable vehicular technology.”
  • “He is a tireless advocate of both student potential and advanced vehicles”
  • “Dr Fraser strives to ensure that the students involved in EcoCAR will attain success in their academic terms while receiving the benefits of the hands on applications that EcoCAR has to offer”
  • “I cannot even imagine myself without this experience and my relationship with him – it has changed my life.”

Dr. Fraser with the UWAFT EcoCAR team at the GM Desert Proving Ground in Yuma, AZ.

Check back shortly for a second Outstanding Faculty Advisor post!

At the end of April, the University of Waterloo Alternative Fuels Team (UWAFT) held an EcoCAR Educational Luncheon to showcase their hydrogen fuel-cell plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (FC-PHEV). During the event, the team explained the engineering, ecological and social opportunities and challenges of the technology in their vehicle. While the car wasn’t yet running on its own power, the attendees were still eager to see some of the powertrain components in their respective places in the vehicle. All of the components from the front to rear of the vehicle were explained during a sort of adult ‘show-and-tell’ session for the crowd in attendance.

UWAFT team members presenting at the EcoCAR Educational Luncheon

The educational luncheon was also a great opportunity to reach out to influencers in the public, private and non-profit sectors. While there were many representatives from the three sectors in the audience, the event also featured speeches from Harold Albrecht, elected Member of Parliament for the Kitchener-Conestoga riding, Dr. Adel Sedra, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering at University of Waterloo and Dan Mepham, the team’s General Motors mentor.

Quite the crowd at the event!

Over the years, technologies have been developed that provide energy and improve our quality of life. However, some of these technologies have come with harmful side effects that now comprise our environmental health. On March 12th, the University of Waterloo Alternative Fuels Team (UWAFT) joined researchers, companies, community organizations, and student groups at the University of Toronto Sustainable Energy Fair (SEF) to share the team’s solutions and innovations for sustainable living.

The University of Toronto Sustainable Energy Fair

SEF’s annual, full-day event brings together exhibitors and students from all facets of sustainability including environmental studies, technology, and business. The goal of the fair is to show the community that sustainable living is easy and simple to incorporate. Guest speakers included David Naylor, President of the University of Toronto, Ingrid Stefanovic, Director of the Centre for Environment, and Bryan Karney, Chair of the Division of Environmental Engineering and Energy Systems.

Eric Mallia, UWAFT's outreach coordinator, talking about energy efficiency with attendees

UWAFT shared in the enthusiasm of various organizations and groups and discussed how to make green alternatives a reality of tomorrow. The UWAFT team would like to thank the University of Toronto for organizing such a solid event that brought together so many bright minds! The team had a blast!

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May 2020