The ERAU EcoEagles have chosen a series, front wheel drive Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle with extended range capabilities for their vehicle architecture. The EcoEagles PHEV will run on both grid-electricity, and B20 bio-diesel. This vehicle will be capable of driving as an electric vehicle for over 40 miles on A123 Systems’ Lithium Ion Battery Pack before using a General Motors small diesel engine as a generator. The GM small diesel engine was chosen for its high efficiency and the low environmental impact associated with B20 bio-diesel.
The EcoEagles have created a bio-fuel station on campus to convert waste oil from the cafeteria into bio-diesel for their EcoEagles PHEV and other university vehicles. The EcoEagles PHEV will use AM Racing electric drive components powered by Remy HVH250 motors, Rinehart Motion Systems inverters, and a GKN transaxle for its front-wheel electric drive system. This EcoEagles PHEV will be able to minimize the vehicles energy consumption, while maintaining high levels of consumer acceptability, and never compromising driver safety.
“The biggest advantage of the series architecture is the ability to run the diesel engine and generator at their combined peak efficiency,” said Brian Harries, the ERAU EcoEagles team lead.
A series configuration uses an electric final drive, known as a traction motor, as the only motive force. The battery powers the electric drive in charge depleting mode until its charge becomes low. Afterward, the diesel engine-generator recharges the battery and also powers the traction motor.
Power flow along both energy paths are bidirectional, as a series vehicle can use electrical energy to start the engine, generate power through the ICE, and regain energy through regenerative braking. Advantages of the series configuration are engine speed and road speed decoupling, and elimination of a multi-gear transmission. (Ehsani, 2010).
The PHEV classification is defined as the ability for a hybrid vehicle to drive an entire urban drive cycle, the UDDS in a charge depleting electric only mode. The PHEV also inherits a plug-in capability. Another option only available with a PHEV with extended range capabilities is a Direct-To-Grid power path that allows the municipal power grid to equalize surges in power demand. During peak city power loads the grid can pull power from many plugged in vehicles (Kisacikoglu, 2010)
Biofuels are a clean alternative fuel that are 100% renewable. They can be created using several different methods depending on the source. Biofuel is created from animal or plant based oils. Since it comes from purely biological substances, biofuel is not harmful to the environment as is other fuels. It even meets the clean air standards as set in place by the California Air Resources Board (Bio Faqs). The well-to-pump emissions associated with fuel production are reduced during the production of biofuels. During photosynthesis, plants absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. These plants are either converted into oils which are used to create biofuel or are eaten by animals whose fat is used to created biofuel (Bio Faqs). Even with the production and transportation of biofuels, it is estimated that there will be an 80% reduction in CO2 when using biofuel (Air Transport Action Group, May 2009).
The EcoEagles do not have nearby access to commercial biofuels despite the State of Florida’s increased incentives for private fueling stations (Florida energy and Climate Comission, 2009). The nearest E85 refueling station is over 50 miles away from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University(Growth energy, 2011). The nearest B20 station to campus is also 50 miles away. In order to increase fuel availability the ERAU EcoEagles team is making biodiesel from recycled waste vegetable oil from the campus’ cafeterias. The fuel is formed from biological compounds and is free of harmful chemicals such as sulfur and aromatics which are found in other fuels.
In order to aid with vehicle testing during years 2 and 3 the team will be installing a dynamometer (dyno) in the ERAU green garage. The university budget had approved the purchasing and installation of an inertial dyno. Contractors have already begun making bids on the installation, which is scheduled for the first quarter of 2012.
The team will also be adding electric vehicle charging stations to the lab and on campus. The team will install one charging station at the ERAU green garage, and one in front of the new administration and welcome center that is being constructed next to the campus entrance.