CSU EcoCAR3 Builds Innovative Hybrid-Electric Camaro
By Guest Author: Emily Taylor of CSU’s EcoCAR3 Team
EcoCAR3 is the latest Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition (AVTC) sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and General Motors, and Colorado State University is one of 16 universities participating in the four-year competition. As a unique opportunity for students to directly work and connect with government, industry and academic professionals, AVTCs have provided students with hands-on experience since 1988 by building vehicles that are integrated in future vehicle developments to reduce environmental impact and fossil fuel energy demands of transportation. EcoCAR3 challenges collegiate teams to reengineer a 2016 Chevrolet Camaro to be a hybrid-electric vehicle while maintaining consumer expectations of the iconic American car. Colorado State’s Vehicle Innovation Team is currently in Year 4 of the competition and will have a fully functioning, showroom ready electric-vehicle by May 2018. The CSU EcoCAR3 Camaro has been branded as the Future Sport 1, or FS1.
CSU’s Vehicle Innovation Team (VIT) is led by Faculty Advisor Thomas Bradley and the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Faculty Advisor Sudheep Pasricha. Day to day activities are managed by the Project Manager Jamison Bair, and the Engineering Manager Gabe DiDominico, and Communications Manager Emily Taylor. The team has three additional Graduate Research Assistants; Vipin Kukkala focuses on simulation, modeling, and in-vehicle testing, Jordan Tunnell, who provides guidance to the Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) team and Matt Knopf is the Systems Safety Manager for the team.
For Year 4 the CSU team is organized into seven different engineering sub-teams, including 1) Modeling and Simulation, 2) In-Vehicle Testing, 3) Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) Innovation, 4) Mechanical, 5) Advanced Composites and Manufacturing, 6) Keysight electric motor dynamometer, and 7) ADAS.
A unique piece of the FS1 is the integration of a Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) capable onboard charger. CSU Vehicle Innovation Team is the only team in the competition to incorporate a charger with this feature. As the U.S. power system transitions towards renewables and non-renewable resources become obsolete, centralized power transmission is not suitable for intermittent energy sources, like wind and solar. A stable, distributive grid system coupled with improvements to infrastructure are necessary to supply reliable energy when it cannot be produced, and storage options are becoming increasingly important. V2G is one solution to this future need by utilizing electric vehicles as storage systems for the power grid during times of low energy usage and providing power back to the grid when loads are high, paving the way for renewables to be integrated into the system despite unpredictable and irregular production. Barriers to electric vehicle adoption include long charging times and the lack of charging infrastructure. As more EV’s are utilized this will create high stress on the power system so grid connected EV’s are a must. Knowing the barriers for electric vehicles, the FS1 will utilize a DC fast charge port, similar to what is used in the Chevrolet Bolt, cutting charging times significantly. The FS1 will also include a 120V V2H utility outlet to allow flexibility and maximum utility for consumers to use small appliances directly from the car, where ever they may be.
The CSU Vehicle Innovation Team is working to not only design an innovative electric-vehicle that can be a storage component for the electric power system, but also create a car that is marketable to a variety of consumer audiences. The students on the team are in a unique position entering the workforce upon graduation with cutting-edge skills in an ever changing and competitive job market. The FS1 and Vehicle Innovation Team will be heading to the national competition in Yuma, Arizona and Pomona, California May 10-22 of this year, competing against 15 other universities while representing the only participating institution from Colorado.