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Technology partnership builds momentum

Electric cars? Hybrids? What sounded like crazy ideas not too long ago are now commonplace to American consumers. In fact, the National Academies, advisors to the nation on science, engineering and medicine, estimates that by the year 2050, cars with internal combustion engines will be obsolete, and completely replaced by hydrogen cars.

Electric Cars presentation attendees
Dr. Ronald Bailey, Dean, College of Engineering and Computer Science;
Congressman Zach Wamp; Chancellor Roger Brown; Dan Simpson,
Research Scientist, ATTRP; Mark Hairr, Project Manager, ATTRP

U.S. Congressman Zach Wamp and a team of researchers from The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga College of Engineering and Computer Science and the Advanced Transportation Technology Institute (ATTI) have introduced a federally-funded research partnership that will put Chattanooga on the cutting edge of new transportation technology development.

The UTC Advanced Technology for Transportation Research Program (ATTRP) has been established, with Mark Hairr as Program Director and Dan Simpson as Research Scientist. ATTRP has partnered with the Enterprise Center, ATTI, Tennessee Department of Transportation, and CARTA.

Results from this partnership could lead to intelligent public transportation and Tennessee’s first hydrogen fuel station, establishing Chattanooga as a major destination on the emerging hydrogen highway and strengthening our community’s effort to attract an automobile manufacturer to Enterprise South.

“The development of renewable energy resources is essential to our survival as a country and as a people. This partnership propels UTC and Chattanooga to the forefront of that effort,” said Chancellor Roger Brown.

A Federal Transit Administration (FTA) grant of $990,000 includes about $260,000 to help get the University’s test track functioning. TVA has turned over the track to UTC and ATTI for long term use.

ATTRP will look closely at intelligent transportation solutions, being mindful of those who use mass transit, according to Hairr. ATTRP will also look at how a transit organization can improve, beginning with a CARTA shuttle on the UTC campus. Intelligent design on a CARTA shuttle would mean an MDT, or computer at the driver’s fingertips, which could collect data on riders; a speaker system would sense and announce the next stop; a GPS/AVL CAD system would coordinate the timing of the buses, how long doors are open, and much more. The FTA grant will also support work to integrate the electric hybrid fuel cell into the CARTA shuttle bus.

According to U.S. Congressman Zach Wamp, the federal government is looking closely at communities where university-based research is done in alternative energy.

“ATTRP will lead in technological breakthroughs,” Wamp said.

With continued support from legislators, plans will move forward with the East Tennessee Hydrogen Initiative, which would provide two hydrogen fueling stations. One would be located in Chattanooga.

“Mass transit is the early proving ground for alternative energies, but there are far more cars on the road,” said Dr. J. Ronald Bailey, P. E., Guerry Professor andDean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science. Bailey added that a car run on hydrogen would cost one penny per mile to run. “Companies that seize upon this new technology will prosper,” Bailey predicted.

April 9, 2007