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Current Research

Development of a Hydrogen Hybrid ICE Vehicle

HHICE ShuttleThe objective of this task is to demonstrate new hydrogen-powered, battery-centric, hybrid shuttle buses that will be assimilated into a technology-based campus transportation system. This project contributes to national transit research by utilizing a technology platform for testing and evaluating innovations in Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) components and hydrogen fueling infrastructure applications. The hydrogen hybrid bus will undergo initial tests at the CETE Advanced Vehicle Test Facility (AVTF) and then be operated for one year on a demonstration basis by Chattanooga Area Regional Transit Authority (CARTA) as part of the university transit system serving UTC campus destinations and linking downtown to the university.

Inductive Charging System for a Transit Bus
IPT DiagramThis project involves the design, integration, and testing of a wayside inductive power transfer (IPT) charging system in a transit bus application in partnership with the University of Kansas Transportation Research Institute, Inc. (KUTRI) and UniServices Limited, located at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. The research associated with this project has national significance as the United States has recently placed an increased emphasis on clean advanced vehicle technologies, energy storage and charging systems. This unique project will be the only one of its kind in the United States and has the potential to transform the manner in which electric buses are charged and operated through greater efficiencies. 
Execution of this project can be accomplished in a timely manner since an entire IPT system, provided by Wampfler, Inc., is currently located at CETE’s Advanced Vehicle Test Facility (AVTF) in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and due to the fact that the project team is composed of the leading experts and authorities in IPT systems for public transportation. The overarching goal of the project is to demonstrate that an electric transit bus that can be recharged in one minute (at 60 kW) while the bus is stationary, allowing the bus to travel one mile to the next charging station at a cost of less than one dime with zero tail pipe emissions. Thus, this technology can transform transit buses powered by internal combustion engines to new electric buses operating on routes with embedded electrical coils that power the buses without the need for burning petroleum or any form of hydrocarbon fuel including ethanol and biodiesel.  When coupled with renewable energy sources, IPT can eliminate dependence on imported oil, eliminate tail pipe emissions that contribute to green house gases, and reduce the cost of transportation which will benefit all sectors of the economy, while creating new jobs. 

Range Prediction Research for Electric Automobiles
Solectria Force ChargingDoes an electric vehicle have sufficient stored energy to reach a destination and return safely to a designated charging location without recharging?  This is the central operating question for all electric vehicles.  The answer depends upon a number of factors, including operating parameters of the electric vehicle, driving tendencies, topography of the route, and the current State of Charge (SOC) for the batteries.  The answer is fairly simple if the starting point is also the location of the charging station, the route to be travelled is relatively flat and the batteries are fully charged.  In this case, the trip should be uneventful if the destination point is no farther away than one half the range of the vehicle.  The answer is more complicated if the starting point is not the charging location and the destination requires travel through congested traffic conditions and/or the terrain involves significant changes in elevation and the SOC is less than 100 %. 

Solectria TableCETE has prepared a research paper that presents a methodology for predicting the actual range of an electric vehicle using the Global Positioning System (GPS), the Geographical Information System (GIS), SOC, vehicle parameters, and fundamental Newtonian equations of motion.  Results are compared with experimental data obtained by operating the vehicle under controlled conditions (1) on a closed, flat test track, (2) over rolling terrain, (3) on a limited access highway used as a commuter corridor, and (4) up and down a mountainous route with a change in elevation of more than 1500 ft (2500 m) with an average grade of more than 5 %.

Conversion of a Saturn VUE SUV to Operate on Hydrogen
Hydrogen Vue TeamThis project is phase two of an endeavor to convert a 2005 Saturn Vue to run on alternative and renewable energy sources. Phase one of the project involved the Saturn being converted to run on E85 ethanol. In late 2008 and early 2009 a team of UTC mechanical engineering students was assembled to further modify the Saturn to operate using hydrogen gas independent of the ethanol/gasoline mixture. The team added a totally separate fuel and ignition system which included tank and plumbing installation, installation of a digital pressure and temperature display, wiring for various relays, all of the necessary sensors, and slight engine modification. The work on the vehicle was completed in May 2009 at the conclusion of the spring academic semester. By completing this project the UTC students proved that a stock engine design to operate using gasoline was also capable of operating using hydrogen.

Congressman Zach Wamp tours the AVTFThe vehicle was recently moved to CETE’s Advanced Vehicle Test Facility (AVTF) where thorough testing of the vehicle will be performed according to EPA standards. The vehicle was also part of an event that showcased advanced vehicle technologies at the Advanced Vehicle Test Facility operated by CETE. This event featured Tennessee Congressman Zach Wamp, a strong advanced vehicle technology and renewable fuels proponent, and an international team of researchers from the University of Kansas, Germany and New Zealand. Congressman Wamp provided opening comments and remarks at the event, toured the AVTF and even took a lap around the test track in the hydrogen powered Saturn Vue.