ngv Natural Gas 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.

During Natural Gas Vehicle Challenge, 24 different universities competed in 1990-1991, 20 universities competed in 1991-1992, and 22 universities competed during 1992-1993. These universities spanned across North America, including:

California State University, Northridge

  • Location: Northridge, California
  • Years Involved: 1990-1991, 1991-1992, 1992-1993
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. Stewart Prince
  • Key Technologies: A modified gaseous fuel injection system and an electronic control unit to enhance fuel economy were incorporated into the truck and air flow was enhanced through use of the Corvette-tuned intake manifold. The modified engine was a two bolt main bearing engine block and the vehicle included an electrically heated pup catalyst, which was implemented in conjunction with a specially designed under-floor converter.

Colorado State University

  • Location: Fort Collins, Colorado
  • Years Involved: 1990-1991, 1991-1992, 1992-1993
  • Faculty Advisor: Bryan Wilson
  • Key Technologies: The team added a microprocessor translator to modify ECM throttle body injector signals for fuel temperature and pressure. The vehicle’s design included on-the-fly adjustable VE tables through laptop PC interface to the translator and wide range oxygen sensor biasing table inside the translator allowed ECM feedback fuel control.

Concordia University

  • Location: Montreal, Quebec
  • Years Involved: 1990-1991, 1991-1992, 1992-1993
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. Tad Krepec
  • Key Technologies: The engine included milled 1990 aluminum Corvette heads with matching Edlebrock high-performance intake manifolds. The fuel system consisted of a high pressure regulator, a low pressure fuel shut-off solenoid and a low pressure regulator. A new single exhaust system consisting of a dual bed converter in an in-house-designed casing was installed on the truck to reduce exhaust emissions.

Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal

  • Location: Montreal, Quebec
  • Years Involved: 1990-1991, 1991-1992

Florida Institute of Technology

  • Location: Melbourne, Florida
  • Years Involved: 1990-1991, 1992-1993
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. John D. Thomas
  • Key Technologies: Modifications to the engine system included installation of a multiple spark discharge (MSD-6) ignition system, a Super Fix 1 engine signal filter, and the ANGI LEVS induction system. Engine performance was monitored using several EGA valves with flow rates both higher and lower than stock flow levels.

General Motors Institute/Kettering University

  • Location: Flint, Michigan
  • Years Involved: 1990-1991, 1991-1992, 1992-1993
  • Faculty Advisor: Colin Jordan
  • Key Technologies: Engine ignition timing and EGA rate were recalibrated for improved performance and emissions. Five fuel tanks mounted under the bed of the truck between the cab and the rear bumper and between the two frame rails store the fuel.

Illinois Institute of Technology

  • Location: Chicago, Illinois
  • Years Involved: 1990-1991, 1991-1992, 1992-1993
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. Francisco Ruiz
  • Key Technologies: The engine featured an alternator and a high-energy ignition system, and an open-loop pressure control operates in the ultra-lean region. The truck’s air-fuel ratio is 25 to 30 and the exhaust headers are ceramic-coated on the inside. The intake ozonator operated at over 25,000 volts.

Instituto Technologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey

  • Location: Monterrey, Mexicao
  • Years Involved: 1992-1993

New York Institute of Technology

  • Location: New York, New York
  • Years Involved: 1990-1991, 1991-1992, 1992-1993
  • Key Technologies: The team’s vehicle featured a single turbo induction system with a compression ratio of 9:1.

Northwestern University

  • Location: Evanston, Illinois
  • Years Involved: 1990-1991, 1991-1992, 1992-1993
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. Richard Lueptow
  • Key Technologies: The truck used a stock GM controller to manage sequential port fuel injection for two fuel injectors per cylinder. Emissions were minimized through headland piston rings, an EGR system incorporating a water-gas shift catalyst, dual heated oxygen sensors, and dual catalytic converters. Two fiberglass-wrapped steel tanks were mounted between the frame rails to contain the compressed gas.

Ohio State University

  • Location: Columbus, Ohio
  • Years Involved: 1990-1991, 1991-1992, 1992-1993
  • Faculty Advisor: Lawrence Kennedy
  • Key Technologies: The team’s vehicle featured intake valves with a multiple angle grind and a tuned intake manifold, which were used to improve the fuel flow into each cylinder. The engine had a special piston-to chamber relationship to achieve its compression ratio. Electrically-heated catalysts improved cold start emissions, and a main catalyst designed for natural gas engine exhaust improved emissions.

Old Dominion University

  • Location: Norfolk, Virginia
  • Years Involved: 1990-1991, 1991-1992, 1992-1993
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. Sidney Roberts, Alan Wiggs and Taj Mohieldin
  • Key Technologies: The truck maintained full use of its cargo bed and original payload capacity, with the total conversion weight within 100 lbs of the truck’s original weight before conversion. For safety, the fuel storage system was made up of two composite-reinforced Moly steel tanks mounted inside frame rails forward of rear axle.

Texas A&M

  • Location:  College Station, Texas
  • Years Involved: 1992-1993
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. Tom Laik

Texas Tech University

  • Location: Lubbock, Texas
  • Years Involved: 1990-1991, 1991-1992, 1992-1993
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr.  Tim Maxwell
  • Key Technologies: The team’s exhaust system featured a catalyzed exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) with an electronic air injection. The configuration included prototype closed-loop fuel injection system with pressure/temperature compensation and learning capability. The engine, which included boost recirculation, was a 3000 psi custom CNG throttle body injection, controlled both by a GEM controller and the stock ECM controller.

University of Alabama

  • Location: Tuscaloosa, Alabama
  • Years Involved: 1990-1991, 1991-1992

University of Alberta – Edmonton

  • Location:  Edmonton, Alberta
  • Years Involved: 1992-1993
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. David Checkel
  • Key Technologies: A bolt-on overdrive unit was added for efficiency and fuel economy, as well as feedback-controlled fuel delivery system that minimizes emissions. The team used multiple spark ignition system to overcome methane ignition difficulty to prevent power and fuel efficiency losses.

University of British Columbia

  • Location: Vancouver, British Columbia
  • Years Involved: 1990-1991

University of Maryland

  • Location: College Park, Maryland
  • Years Involved: 1990-1991, 1991-1992, 1992-1993
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. David Holloway
  • Key Technologies: The truck was one of two LNG conversions in the competition, with an estimated range of 450 + miles. The truck sported a cryogenic intercooler vaporizer and dual overdrives. Four SP021 BKMjServojet injectors were controlled by the stock GM computer through a Beacon Power Systems translator. Fuel lock was accomplished by an engine compartment isolation solenoid and a fuel rail isolation solenoid.

University of Michigan

  • Location: Dearborn, Michigan
  • Years Involved: 1990-1991, 1991-1992, 1992-1993
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. Keshav Varde
  • Key Technologies: The vehicle’s fuel system featured a high pressure shut-off solenoid which operated off the existing fuel pump relay. Emissions were controlled by light –off catalytic converters. For cold startability, a microprocessor-based system increased the throttle if the ambient temperature is less than 0°C. An MSD-6A capacitive, multi-spark discharge ignition was used in the vehicle because of its higher voltage and multiple fires for a more complete combustion.

University of Nebraska

  • Location: Lincoln, Nebraska
  • Years Involved: 1990-1991, 1991-1992, 1992-1993
  • Faculty Advisor: Joseph Borg
  • Key Technologies: The vehicle featured an aluminum-tuned port manifold using dual turbochargers with integral wastegates and water-to-air intercooling replaced the production intake manifold. Two composite fiber-reinforced steel cylinders were installed under the cab and box between the frame rails and drive shaft; three cylinders, composed of aluminum liner and composite fiber, were installed behind the rear axle. A multi-port fuel injection system replaced the gasoline throttle body.

University of Oklahoma

  • Location: Norman, Oklahoma
  • Years Involved: 1990-1991

University of Tennessee, Knoxville

  • Location: Knoxville, Tennessee
  • Years Involved: 1990-1991, 1991-1992, 1992-1993
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. Jeff Hodgson
  • Key Technologies: The team’s vehicle was carbureted with supplemental fuel injectors and the system functions with a closed loop control system to maintain a stoichiometric air/fuel ratio for optimum three-way catalyst operation. Exhaust gas leaves the turbocharger toward the back of the engine; exhaust exits directly out of the turbine. Block learning was incorporated into an Impco 300A mixer, with a modified lmpco adaptive digital processor, which used EGO sensor feedback to control the gas pressure supplied to the gas mixer.

University of Texas, Arlington

  • Location: Arlington, Texas
  • Years Involved: 1992-1993
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. Bob Woods and Stephen Kugle
  • Key Technologies: The vehicle’s intake air plenum and manifold were constructed around a modified tuned-port injection system and ignition timing and fuel metering (banked injection) were controlled with aftermarket electronics. Engine operation was stoichiometric, and a three-way catalyst with separate light-off catalyst was installed for exhaust gas treatment. Lastly, fuel was stored in four 3000 psi fiberglass-wrapped aluminum tanks.

University of Texas, Austin

  • Location: Austin, Texas
  • Years Involved: 1990-1991, 1991-1992, 1992-1993
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. Ron Matthews
  • Key Technologies: The engine was composed of a single plane low-rise manifold, an OHG 450 mixer, and a Holley 600 throttle body. The valve train included a Crower cam, hydraulic roller lifters, and roller rockers. The team installed a computer controlled blower bypass, open under low load and low acceleration conditions, closed under high load and/or high acceleration conditions.

University of Texas, El Paso

  • Location: El Paso, Texas
  • Years Involved: 1992-1993
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. Carroll Johnson
  • Key Technologies: The truck featured modified TRW high compression racing pistons and ceramic-coated rings, pistons, combustion chambers, and valve faces. The intake manifolds were modified to accommodate 1992 Corvette aluminum heads. EGA system was modified to include an exhaust gas heat exchanger. An Autotronics MSD 6A high performance ignition system was modified, as was an Autotronics ignition control system

University of Toronto

  • Location: Toronto, Ontario
  • Years Involved: 1990-1991, 1991-1992

University of Virginia

  • Location: Charlottesville, Virginia
  • Years Involved: 1990-1991, 1991-1992

Washington University – St. Louis

  • Location: St. Louis, Missouri
  • Years Involved: 1990-1991

West Virginia University

  • Location: Morgantown, West Virginia
  • Years Involved: 1990-1991, 1991-1992, 1992-1993
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. James Smith
  • Key Technologies: The vehicle’s camshaft used reduced overlap, smaller lift, and longer duration to allow improved performance at a lower engine speed. The engine control system was a modified stock ECM and natural gas was supplied to the engine compartment via 1/4-inch stainless steel fuel lines routed from the tanks along the driver’s side frame rail. For closed loop operation, fuel injectors were incorporated to meter and control fuel delivery.