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Progression Over the Years: The EcoEagles Student-Designed Biodiesel Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle

[+] Author Affiliations
Sean Carter, Jenna Beckwith, Marc Compere, Darris White, Brandon Smith, Zachary Karstetter, Brian Harries

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, FL

Paper No. IMECE2011-65495, pp. 365-374; 10 pages
  • ASME 2011 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 9: Transportation Systems; Safety Engineering, Risk Analysis and Reliability Methods; Applied Stochastic Optimization, Uncertainty and Probability
  • Denver, Colorado, USA, November 11–17, 2011
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5495-2
  • Copyright © 2011 by ASME


The Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) EcoEagles are participating in the EcoCar: The NeXt Challenge competition. The competition is a three-year collegiate event where 16 teams from North America compete to build a more efficient and better performing GM production vehicle. The three year collegiate competition is sponsored by the Department of Energy (DOE), General Motors (GM), and Argonne National Labs (ANL). The advanced vehicle technology competition has a history, and has been organized and ran for the past 20 years. The competition challenges collegiate minds to reduce the environmental impact of a Chevrolet EcoCAR by minimizing fuel consumption and reducing emissions while retaining the vehicle’s performance, safety, and consumer appeal. The main focus of the competition is to use real world vehicle development strategies and processes that would meet GM’s standard practices and safety protocols. All of the sponsors of the competition provide teams with engineering tools, equipment needed to create a realistic vehicle, and project design support to the teams throughout the competition. The ERAU team, the EcoEagles, has successfully devised a Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) propulsion system that meets those requirements. The electrification of the powertrain and the use of biodiesel fuel are central themes in the EcoEagles’ strategy for improving fuel economy and tailpipe emissions. The team selected an electric range of approximately 25 miles based on the average commuter driving less than 33 miles per day [1]; meaning that most of the vehicle operation will be conducted using either fully electric or electric-assisted propulsion. The vehicle design consideration was accomplished by implementing a 1.3L GM Turbo Diesel coupled with a 2-Mode electrically variable transmission (EVT) and an A123 Lithium-Ion Iron-Phosphate 330V 12.8kWhr battery pack. The EcoEagles design will reduce petroleum energy consumption by 78%, improve fuel economy by 66%, and reduce well-to-wheel greenhouse gas (WTWGHG) emissions by 30%. The paper will focus on the 99% production readiness. The paper will also discuss and include vehicle test data supporting the energy efficiency, emissions, and performance / utility capabilities of the vehicle as determined by the first two years of vehicle development. The vehicle architecture and background information will also be presented to help the reader understand why the given architecture was chosen and how it might compare to the Chevrolet EcoCAR. Performance predictions made from simulations will be contrasted against those from the Hardware-in-the-Loop (HIL) development. Finally, on-road testing will also be compared with the same predictions with the goal of showing why the model-based, HIL enhanced, and vehicle technical specifications (VTS) did or did not agree.

Copyright © 2011 by ASME



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