The University of Waterloo Alternative Fuels Team, UWAFT, has a mission to design, build, and market fuel efficient vehicles of the future. UWAFT is one of 16 university student teams participating in EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge. The challenge was established by the USA Department of Energy and General Motors (GM), recognizing the need to devise solutions to reduce the environmental impact of gasoline-fueled vehicles. Students are challenged with re-engineering a GM-donated vehicle, a 2008 dual-mode hybrid Saturn VUE. The overall objective is to significantly reduce fuel consumption and emissions by exploring advanced technological solutions, while increasing energy efficiency and maintaining vehicle performance, safety and utility. Vehicle configurations considered by the various teams include electric drive, hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fuel cell technologies. Alternate fuels range from ethanol, biodiesel and hydrogen. All teams explored alternative lightweight materials.
The learning objective for this case study is to introduce 1st year engineering undergraduate students to engineering design concepts. It can also be used in many other courses throughout the curriculum to illustrate the application of advanced engineering science concepts including battery performance, motor control, hybrid vehicle control, material selection and light-weighting, and fuel cell technology.