EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge Battery Size Selection

Amrita Yasin, Michael Fowler, Cheryl Pearce, William Scott and Dylan Finley
Case revision date: 
4 pages (Case Study)

The University of Waterloo Alternative Fuels Team, UWAFT, has a mission to design, build, and market fuel efficient vehicles of the future. UWAFT was 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 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 (EV), hybrid, plug-in hybrid (PHV) and fuel cell (FCV) technologies. Alternate fuels range from ethanol, biodiesel and hydrogen. All teams explored alternative lightweight materials.

The UWAFT team chose a hybrid electric vehicle architecture, which relies on a suitably sized battery pack, Figure 1. They chose a system suitable for the competition requirements and readily available from one of the competition sponsors, it is desired to examine the possibility of an alternate system more suited to typical consumer use.

Powertrain configuration for EcoCARUniversity of Waterloo Powertrain Configuration for the EcoCAR

Learning objectives: 

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

Key words: 
Vehicle Emissions; Fuel cell; Hybrid car; Car batteries; Battery performance
CEAB attributes: 
Investigation; Design
Module 01 – Case Study
Module 02 – Battery capacity and sizing

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