evc Ethanol Vehicle Challenge

Since the beginning, more than 93 universities across North America and 16,500 students have participated in AVTCs. Each year, 200-500 students join forces in AVTCs mission of educating the next generation of automotive engineers and advancing state-of-the-art fuels and vehicle technologies.

Fourteen universities competed in Ethanol Vehicle Challenge for the first two years and two additional schools joined for the final year of the competition. These 16 universities spanned across the United States and Canada and included:

Cedarville College

  • Location: Cedarville, Ohio
  • Years Involved: 1997-1998, 1998-1999, 1999-2000
  • Vehicle Strategy: The Cedarville team decided on an aggressive and innovative approach to their design. The goal was to maximize the educational experience by producing a production prototype vehicle, instead of a baseline ethanol conversion. Throughout the development, the team made aggressive modification and stretched their understanding of engineering design experiences.
  • Faculty Advisor: Chuck Allport

Crowder College

  • Location: Neosho, Missouri
  • Years Involved: 1997-1998, 1998-1999, 1999-2000
  • Vehicle Strategy: The team focused on cold start and overall emissions performance in their vehicle strategy. The most innovative components included the heat exchange devise and spark arrestor.
  • Faculty Advisor: Art Boyt, Eli Bryant, and Sherry McCormack

Idaho State University

  • Location: Pocatello, Idaho
  • Years Involved: 1997-1998, 1998-1999, 1999-2000
  • Vehicle Strategy: The team’s goal was to convert the vehicle to ethanol in order to lower emissions, increase thermodynamic efficiency, and improve performance. The team design incorporated electrically heated catalytic converters, an ethanol compatible fuel system, and a supercharger. In the final year, the team installed an intercooler and air pump, and completely reworked the exhaust system from the engine back.
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. Jonathan Blotter, Todd Gansauge, Kenyon Hart, and Miles Whiting

Illinois Institute of Technology

  • Location: Chicago, Illinois
  • Years Involved: 1997-1998, 1998-1999, 1999-2000
  • Vehicle Strategy: The team took a bold, new approach to their design. The engineering designs converted the fuel rail and the other fuel components to work safely with ethanol. The team also installed a custom supercharger and inter-cooler, used extrude honing in the engine, and increased engine displacement by using stronger internal engine parts. The team strengthened driveline components to safely accept higher power levels and employed experimental catalysts, an auxiliary transmission, and a computer recalibration to improve emissions and fuel economy. Other special systems included coolant heat batteries for quicker engine warm-up and an engineered cold-start system. In the final year, the team rebuilt their engine and added a cold start system using existing Centaur thermal system and an intercooler, which provided more efficient cold-starting. In addition, the team added an air injection system to the exhaust and a higher spark energy ignition system for better combustion of air and fuel.
  • Faculty Advisor: Francisco Ruiz

Kettering University (Formerly GMI Engineering & Management Institute)

  • Location: Flint, Michigan
  • Years Involved: 1997-1998, 1998-1999, 1999-2000
  • Vehicle Strategy: The team’s approach to the ethanol conversion centered on four primary customer-driven goals: maintaining or exceeding the performance of the current gasoline-fueled vehicle, reducing emissions, constructing a system that can be easily and economically integrated for production, and making the system invisible to the operator.
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. Greg Davis

Minnesota State University, Mankato (Formerly Mankato State University)

  • Location: Mankato, Minnesota
  • Years Involved: 1997-1998, 1998-1999, 1999-2000
  • Vehicle Strategy: The team’s vehicle used a supercharger to help achieve a higher compression ratio. To achieve the strategy of reducing emissions, the team used electrically heated converters similar to those used in previous years. In the final year, the team added heated fuel rails, coolant storage batteries, heated catalytic converters, and voltage booster.
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. Bruce Jones and Kirk Ready

University of Alberta, Edmonton

  • Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • Years Involved: 1999-2000
  • Vehicle Strategy: The team’s focus was on including plasma jet ignition system for cold start, an air injection system control/optimization, and electronic controls for an air injection system into the vehicle.
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. Dave Checkel

University of California, Riverside

  • Location: Riverside, California
  • Years Involved: 1997-1998, 1998-1999, 1999-2000
  • Vehicle Strategy: The vehicle design integrated a replaced fuel pump, fuel regulator, and injectors. The vehicle also featured a distillation column and incorporated an EGR cooler pump to help reduce NOx and improve fuel economy.
  • Faculty Advisor: Kent Johnson

University of Illinois at Chicago

  • Location: Chicago, Illinois
  • Years Involved: 1997-1998, 1998-1999, 1999-2000
  • Vehicle Strategy: The team’s approach to the ethanol conversion was to keep it simple and refine the vehicle. During the final year, there was significant effort put into research and development of more technologically innovative components to enhance fuel economy, reduce emission, and promote cold start. Such components included a 4.8L Vortec engine in conjunction with a 3.42 axle ratio, a Coronoa Discharge Device for creating a plasma field in the exhaust system, a vacuum-insulated phase-change material catalytic converter, and a distillation column.
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. Brianno Coller

University of Kansas

  • Location: Lawrence, Kansas
  • Years Involved: 1997-1998, 1998-1999, 1999-2000
  • Vehicle Strategy: The team strategy was to convert the Silverado into a high-performance, environmentally friendly pickup truck. The design emphasized simplicity and dependability. To maximize the horsepower produced by the engine and maintain ease of ethanol combustion at low temperatures, the team had to raise the compression value. The vehicle design also included a supercharger to supply high-density air to the engine and the use of high-compression pistons. The team also looked at using custom-ground cams to increase the horsepower of the engine. Other modifications included on ensuring the components were compatible with E85 fuel. The team also modified the air induction, fuel management, emissions control, vehicle suspension, and cold-start systems to boost performance and lower emissions.
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. Robert Sorem

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

  • Location: Lincoln, Nebraska
  • Years Involved: 1997-1998, 1998-1999, 1999-2000
  • Vehicle Strategy: The team’s approach included the goal of developing power while maintaining emissions through an arsenal of innovative components.  During the final year, the team refined the vacuum-insulated phase-change catalytic converters, the electronically-driven supercharger, inlet air heater and other cold start strategies, and PCM calibrations.
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. William Weins and Dr. Alexander Peters

University of Texas at Austin

  • Location: Austin, Texas
  • Years Involved: 1997-1998, 1998-1999, 1999-2000
  • Vehicle Strategy: The team’s vehicle design included the use of an improved onboard fuel distillation system to improve the truck’s cold-start capability. The goals of participating in the competition include education through involvement in a complex, real-world engineering design problem, and expand the engineering experience in the areas of air quality, energy, alternative fuels, and automotive engineering. The team focused on onboard distillation and PCM recalibration during the final year.
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. Ron Matthews and Dr. Matt Hall

University of Texas at El Paso

  • Location: El Paso, Texas
  • Years Involved: 1997-1998, 1998-1999, 1999-2000
  • Vehicle Strategy: The UTEP’s conversion of the Silverado addresses four primary issues: vehicle performance, emissions control, fuel economy, and cold starting. The dedicated E85-fueled pickup included superior emissions, cold starting, and performance compared to the original gasoline-fueled vehicle. All fuel system components were made to be E85 compatible and the team used ethanol-specific light-off and main catalysts to reduce emissions, while including optimized an air injection system that rapidly heated the catalyst to reduce cold-start emissions. The team improved cold-start characteristics by incorporating a high-energy, multiple-spark ignition system and used a centrifugal supercharger to improve at high loads.
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. Ryan Whicker

University of Waterloo

  • Location: Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
  • Years Involved: 1997-1998, 1998-1999, 1999-2000
  • Vehicle Strategy: The vehicle design strategy for converting and optimizing the Chevrolet Silverado for dedicated E85 operation emphasized simplicity and testing. The fuel delivery addressed all material capability and associated safety issues, including the use of additional fuel enrichment at cold start. The team reduced the engine flow losses and slightly increased the compression ratio for improved efficiency and power. A heated coolant storage system and EGR cooler were added to decrease engine-out emissions. The team also modified the exhaust system, which included close-coupled pre-catalysts and ethanol-specific main catalysts.
  • Faculty Advisor: Roydon Fraser

University of Windsor

  • Location: Windsor, Ontario, Canada
  • Years Involved: 1999-2000
  • Vehicle Strategy: The team’s approach was based heavily on tailpipe emissions by using well-placed converters and an engine control strategy to minimize engine-out emissions. The team used a Motech controller to fine tune the air/fuel ratio to achieve minimum emissions, and engine efficiency was increased by raising the compression ratio.  Other improvements included heated air in the induction system to add thermal energy to the system. This technique, along with adding more fuel at startup to increase the evaporation rate, will be the primary methods used for the cold start event.
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. Andrezej Sobiesiak

Wayne State University

  • Location: Detroit, Michigan
  • Years Involved: 1997-1998, 1998-1999, 1999-2000
  • Vehicle Strategy: The team used an approach similar to the previous year. The team changed the line and rails to stainless steel and increased the compression ratio. The design also included changes to the control modules to aid in cold-start.
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. Dinu Taraza and Dr. Frank Westervelt

*Vehicle strategies above were based on the conversion of the Chevrolet Silverado vehicles from 1998 to 2000