Georgia Tech Excels in EcoCAR Challenge

Students and faculty from Georgia Tech’s schools of electrical and computer engineering, mechanical engineering and chemical and biomolecular engineering placed seventh out of the 16 competing universities in the third and final year of the EcoCAR Challenge. Georgia Tech also placed fourth in lifecycle greenhouse gas emission reductions, fifth in lifecycle petroleum use reduction and won the Best Vehicle Appearance award.

EcoCAR Challenge
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The Georgia Tech team for the EcoCAR Challenge included more than 60 students with team leaders Carlos A. Cubero-Ponce and Ryan Melsert and faculty advisors including Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Tom Fuller, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Michael Leamy and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering David Taylor.

A total of 16 universities across North America took part in this competition and were challenged to design, re-engineer, and then test a sports utility vehicle in order to minimize fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions while maintaining vehicle performance and consumer appeal. The competition was held June 5 - 16 at General Motor’s Milford, Mich., proving grounds and at locations throughout Washington, D.C.

The Georgia Tech team entered a hybrid electric vehicle with a power-split architecture featuring a biofuel powered 1.6L engine, GM’s 2-Mode hybrid transmission and a lithium-ion battery pack provided by A123 Systems. Georgia Tech placed first out of the six universities that chose to use this prototype power split architecture. EcoCAR: The Next Challenge is a three year collegiate advanced vehicle technology engineering competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and General Motors, and managed by Argonne National Laboratory.  

Students were given carte blanche to design and build their unique advanced propulsion solutions in order to meet the array of vehicle performance targets set by the competition. Teams explored a wide variety of technologies and strategies that helped their vehicles achieve these goals, such as hybrid electric, plug-in electric, range-extended electric and fuel cell electric architectures, along with a combination of gasoline, ethanol, biodiesel, electricity, and hydrogen fuels and energy carriers.

Teams were directed to follow the real-world approach modeled after GM’s global vehicle development process, providing students with hands on engineering experience.

“The EcoCAR Challenge gives us an unparalleled venue to work together with the top of their industry to apply what we’ve learned in the classroom to make a genuine difference in the real world,” said founding team leader Ryan Melsert.

The Georgia Tech team included over 60 students with team leaders Carlos A. Cubero-Ponce and Ryan Melsert and faculty advisors including Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Tom Fuller, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Michael Leamy and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering David Taylor.

Written by Georgia Tech Communications & Marketing Student Media Member Ayesha Patel.

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