OIT Success Story : May 2008
An ongoing student project is underway to develop a plug in diesel-electric vehicle. The project is aimed at providing a retrofit kit to convert existing autos to hybrid operation. The base vehicle being used is an older Volkswagen Jetta.
Technically the trans-axle and engine are separated by several inches, just enough room to sneak in an electric clutch and timing belt pulley. The timing belt directly connects an electric motor to the trans-axle while the diesel engine is connected to the trans-axle through the electric clutch. With this setup, the electric motor can be used for propulsion by de-energizing the clutch, removing the internal combustion engine from the drive. Likewise, the diesel can be used by engaging the electric clutch and allowing the electric motor to freely spin. The two motors, electric and diesel, can as easily be used in conjunction. A simple concept.
Designing within a small space the implementation of a control system is an interesting challenge and requires a multidisciplinary approach. The team working on the project is composed of Mechanical Engineering, Computer Science and Electronic Engineering Technology majors. The aim is to produce a design applicable to kit construction. However, another major benefit of this effort is putting engineers into the work place with awareness and knowledge of hybrid cars and green technology.
Two faculty members, Hugh Currin and Jim Long are continuing research into aerodynamic modeling of wind turbine wakes. The two have a small grant to develop a free wake aerodynamic model for inclusion in the National Renewable Energy Lab's wind turbine code AeroDyn. Inclusion in AeroDyn will make this analysis program accessible to designers throughout the country and the world. One part of the effort is to adapt the code, from the ground up, to use parallel processing. This will bring execution times for the code down to those appropriate for day to day design calculations rather than research applications.
The work is just beginning but should show results within a year. With the increase in alternate energy work in Oregon, particularly in wind energy, it is hoped this and similar efforts will bring additional wind turbine design and manufacture to the state.