pvc Propane 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 Propane Vehicle Challenge, 12 different universities competed in 1995-1996 and 17 universities from 1996-1997. These universities spanned across the United States and Canada and include the following:

Cedarville College

  • Location: Cedarville, Ohio
  • Years Involved: 1995-1996, 1996-1997
  • Vehicle: Chrysler Minivan
  • Key Features: The team took a parallel path in determining the approach to developing and designing the vehicle. The vehicle’s configuration was based on gaseous injection, basic engine mods, and commercial tanks. The team later focused on liquid injection and custom components in the second year, with the addition of a close-coupled, high-efficiency catalytic converter.
  • Faculty Advisor: Chuck Allport

Ecole de Technologie Superieure

  • Location: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • Years Involved: 1995-1996, 1996-1997
  • Vehicle: Chrysler Minivan
  • Key Features: The vehicle demonstrated a new type of propane reservoir and a new generation catalyst. The vehicle’s compression ratio was increased to 12:1. During the second year, the team included a liquid injection system and electrical catalyst to decrease pollutants at cold start.
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. Ahn Dung Ngo

GMI Engineering & Management Institute/Kettering University

  • Location: Flint, Michigan
  • Years Involved: 1995-1996, 1996-1997
  • Vehicle: Chrysler Minivan
  • Key Features: The team used a combination of modified pistons, intake manifold, and specialized fuel injectors. The team designed their own fuel tank, and raised the compression ratio to 12.2:1. In the second year, the team developed ad dedicated liquid propane injection system that exceeded performance and emission characteristics benchmarked by identical gasoline-fueled vehicles.
  • Faculty Advisors: Dr. Pinhas Barak, Dr. Chehroudi,  Professor Ubong, and Dr. Jennifer Sullivan

Illinois Institute of Technology

  • Location: Chicago, Illinois
  • Years Involved: 1995-1996, 1996-1997
  • Vehicle: Chrysler Minivan
  • Key Features: Gaseous propane was injected using CNG injectors that were mechanically compatible with the manifold on the vehicle. The vehicle’s propane pressure would be adjusted depending of the temperature of the propane so the delivery rate would remain constant. The team switched to liquid fueled injection during the second year, as well as a higher exhaust gas recirculation and lean air-to-fuel ratios to improve the oxides of nitrogen emissions.
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. Francisco Ruiz

Texas A&M University

  • Location: College Station, Texas
  • Years Involved: 1995-1996, 1996-1997
  • Vehicle: Chrysler Minivan and Dodge Dakota
  • Key Features: The team pursued a sequential gaseous injection with a tight fuel delivery scheme, good emissions control, and multiple engine modifications to liquefied petroleum gas. The team utilized vapor multi-point fuel injection system and a custom controller calibration in the second year when they switched to a Dodge Dakota pickup truck.
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. Make McDermott, Dr. Ravinder Chona, Dr. Jerald Caton, and Professor Kim Mosse

Texas Tech University

  • Location: Lubbock, Texas
  • Years Involved: 1995-1996, 1996-1997
  • Vehicle: Chrysler Minivan
  • Key Features: The team built their own fuel controller for gaseous injection, as well as other minor adjustments to the vehicle to optimize engine for fuel economy and emissions.
  • Faculty Advisors: Dr. Tim Maxwell, Dr. Michael Parten, Dr. Darrell Vines, and Jesse Jones

University of Alberta – Edmonton

  • Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • Years Involved: 1996-1997
  • Vehicle: Chrysler Minivan
  • Key Features: The team’s vehicle was a practical propane-powered minivan featuring off-the-shelf parts and technology. The vehicle’s engine remained stock, with a slightly raise compression ratio, and the fuel system consisted of feedback controlled vapor with a 65 L tank. In the second year, the team used liquid propane injection consisting of propane-specific rails and injectors, a conformable fuel tank, and a liquid propane tank system.
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. J.D. Dale

University of California – Riverside

  • Location: Riverside, California
  • Years Involved: 1996-1997
  • Vehicle: Dodge Dakota
  • Key Features: The team developed an efficient sequential individual port vapor injection strategy coupled with state-of-the-art catalyst technology. The team also stressed low emission with their efficient engine control strategy.
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. Joseph Norbeck

University of Kansas

  • Location: Lawrence, Kansas
  • Years Involved: 1996-1997
  • Vehicle: Dodge Dakota
  • Key Features: The team utilized a supercharger, liquid fuel injection, and an electronically heated catalyst to increase power and efficiency, while lowering emissions for the vehicle. Specific fuel rails, fuel injectors, and pumping systems were added for the accommodation of liquid propane. A programmable engine control unit was incorporated to enable perfect engine.
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. Rob Sorem

University of Oklahoma

  • Location: Norman, Oklahoma
  • Years Involved: 1995-1996
  • Vehicle: Chrysler Minivan
  • Key Features: The vehicle’s performance was enhanced by increasing the compression ratio of the engine by adding a turbocharger. Emissions were controlled through precise control of airfuel ratio and special catalysts.
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. William Sutton

University of Puerto Rico

  • Location: Mayaguez, Puerto Rico
  • Years Involved: 1996-1997
  • Vehicle: Dodge Dakota
  • Key Features: The team worked on optimization and improvement of the existing technology related to propane fuel conversion and designed a propane storage system for vehicle in the rear of the truck.
  • Faculty Advisors: Dr. Luis Bocanegra, Dr. David Serrano, and Jorge Di Ritis

University of Tennessee, Knoxville

  • Location: Knoxville,  Tennessee
  • Years Involved: 1996-1997
  • Vehicle: Dodge Dakota
  • Key Features: The team’s vehicle design focused on low emissions and increased fuel economy. The vehicle reduced power-robbing friction by 30 percent without any decrease in the vehicle’s performance.
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. Jeffrey Hodgson

University of Texas at Austin

  • Location: Austin, Texas
  • Years Involved: 1995-1996, 1996-1997
  • Vehicle: Chrysler Minivan
  • Key Features: The team used a sequential liquid-phase injection of propane to increase power and decrease emissions.
  • Faculty Advisors: Dr. Ron Matthews and Dr. Matt Hall

University of Texas at El Paso

  • Location: El Paso, Texas
  • Years Involved: 1995-1996, 1996-1997
  • Vehicle: Chrysler Minivan
  • Key Features: UTEP’s vehicle used a gaseous injection combined with a modified intake and cooling system to provide ultra-low emission and high fuel economy. In the second year, the team switched to liquid phase fuel injection, which included an in-tank pump, in-house nylon injector holders, and an independent fuel delivery for each injector. The stock engine controller was retained with a piggyback controller providing specific strategies to account for variable fuel rail pressures, cold start enrichment, and variable spark timing.
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. Ryan Wicker and Dr. Mary Robbins

University of Waterloo

  • Location: Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
  • Years Involved: 1996-1997
  • Vehicle: Dodge Dakota
  • Key Features: The team’s vehicle adopted continuous multi-port propane vapor injection and operated under a close-loop, lean-burn strategy. The multiple spark discharge system was evaluated to extend the lean-burn limit, and EGR rates and cooling were tested to determine the benefit on homogeneity of mixing and NOx reduction.
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. Roydon Fraser, Dr. Steve Lambert, and Dr. Beth Weckman

University of Windsor

  • Location: Windsor, Ontario, Canada
  • Years Involved: 1995-1996, 1996-1997
  • Vehicle: Chrysler Minivan and Dodge Dakota
  • Key Features: In the first year, gaseous carburetion, gaseous injection, and liquid injection techniques were considered by the team, but in the end, gaseous injection was chosen. The team also considered fuel heaters for the use of cold start operations. The team received a Dodge Dakota in the second year and used liquid-propane port-injection with two storage tanks.
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. Gary Rankin, Dr. Robert Gaspar, Barry Maskery, and Dan Vincent

Villanova

  • Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Years Involved: 1995-1996
  • Vehicle: Chrysler Minivan
  • Key Features: The team planned on developing a cost-effective, after-market propane conversion system that utilized liquid fuel injection with minimal engine modifications.
  • Faculty Advisors: Dr. John Majerus and William Koffke

Virginia Tech

  • Location: Blacksburg, Virginia
  • Years Involved: 1996-1997
  • Vehicle: Dodge Dakota
  • Key Features: The team used liquid LPG sequential injection control with a programmable engine control unit. The team increased the compression ratio of the engine for better thermal efficiency and used thin-walled, ceramic-coated, exhaust headers, close-coupled catalysts, and an LPG-specific catalyst to reduce emissions to sub-ULEV standards.
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. Doug Nelson

Western Washington University

  • Location: Bellingham, Washington
  • Years Involved: 1995-1996, 1996-1997
  • Vehicle: Chrysler Minivan
  • Key Features: The team’s primary goal was to achieve high fuel efficiency while maintaining the emission benefits of propane. The team used a standard conversion approach with a 21 gallon tank mounted under the tailgate and additional 10 gallon tank mounted to the rear axle. In the second year, the team used liquid propane fuel while optimizing engine modifications. This helped ensure excelled combustion characteristics and enhanced efficiency. Propane-specific catalyst formulation were used to further minimize unwanted emissions.
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. Michael Seal and Dr. Gavin Campbell