MNTRC Newsletter Vol. 21, Issue 1: Summer 2014

Alternatively fueled vehicles show range of technologies

David J. Klinikowski, Director, Center for Bus Research and Testing

Electric motorcycle at charging station

Featured vehicles included electric motorcycles.

Penn State News – The Thomas D. Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute’s Hybrid and Hydrogen Vehicle Research Laboratory hosted the 21st Century Automotive Challenge at Penn State’s University Park Campus on April 10-13. Participating vehicles represented a broad range of automotive power choices, including electric, gasoline-hybrid electric, pluggable hybrid electric and biodiesel. Many types of advanced alternative fuel vehicle technologies have been designed, built, and researched at Penn State, which has infrastructure for various means of fueling.

On Thursday and Friday, April 10-11, competition vehicles registered for two days of preliminary technical inspection, dynamic testing, range events, and student and faculty tours.

Interconnectivity proved important

The following day, all competition vehicles plus other vehicles of interest were displayed at Penn State’s MorningStar Solar Home. Visitors could ask questions and talk with competition participants during the display event. Participants ranged from the hobbyist to the entrepreneur, and from a team of high school students to current market vehicles.

High school students working on project

High school teams also participated.

The 21st Century Automotive Challenge partnered with Penn State’s Sustainability Institute to integrate vehicle-to-building (V2B) and vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology into the competition format between competing vehicles and the center's award-winning MorningStar Solar Home.

This competition format demonstrated the reality of car, grid, and home interconnectivity, which is especially pertinent with the market emergence of production pluggable electric and hybrid cars.

Penn State has the infrastructure for testing

With vehicles representing a range of advanced technologies, the competition events included inspection and dynamic tests as well as travel scenarios representing a busy day of errands and a day of leisure travel. Participants included teams from the former American Tour de Sol Electric Vehicle Championship and the Eastern Electric Vehicle Club (EEVC). Scoring officials included professionals representing Penn State engineering alumni, Penn State’s Department of Energy-sponsored Graduate Automotive Technology Education (GATE) Program, Central Pennsylvania Institute of Technology, and the local racing community.

It was exciting to center this competition in Penn State's domain, where many types of advanced alternative fuel vehicle technologies have been designed, built, and researched, and where infrastructure for various means of fueling exist.

Among the competing vehicles were a Chevy Malibu ethanol HEV, a Saturn Vue biodiesel HEV, a Citroen Deux Chevaux EV, a Chevy S10 EV, two biodiesel Volkswagen Jettas, a 2013 Zero S electric motorcycle, a Biodiesel bread truck science display, and several others.