West Virginia Universitys modified Ford Explorer, the Exclaim!, placed sixth overall during the 2002 FutureTruck competition, a contest that is helping redefine how industry, government, and academia can work together to develop more energy-efficient and”greener”automotive technologies for SUV s and light-duty trucks.
At the Ford proving grounds in Yucca, Arizona, and the California Motor Speedway, in Fontana, Calif., WVU and 14 other schools from the U.S. and Canada met to test their re-engineered Ford Explorers.
Temperatures in excess of 100 degrees challenged the vehiclescooling strategies in the Arizona desert.
WVU finished first in two categories, garnering the Best Off-road Performance award with perfect score of 50/50, and receiving recognition for Best Skit at an informal evening.
The Mountaineers also finished a close second in the Lowest Greenhouse Gas Emission category-one of the most critical objectives of the competition. WVU s pioneering work on Selective Catalytic Reduction paid of by cutting oxides of nitrogen emissions in half.
The University of Wisconsin, Madison placed first overall, followed by Michigan Technological University; University of California, Davis; Cornell University; and Pennsylvania State University.
For the off-road event, the WVU vehicle proved it could still perform as a sport utility vehicles despite its modifications to decrease emissions and increase fuel economy. Exclaim! successfully negotiated a variety of off-road obstacles and hazards using its four-wheel drive system to avoid getting hung up on a rock or stuck in the sand.
Bob Himes, from Ford Motors, presented WVU with the award for Best Off-Road Performance. The team scored 49 out of a possible 50 points. Ford and the U.S. Department of Energy sponsor FutureTruck.
Participating student teams modify the powertrain of a SUV to increase fuel economy. They may employ various advanced automotive technologies, including hydrogen fuel cells, hybrid powertrains combining electric motors and internal combustion engines, emerging computer technology, advanced electronics, and alternative fuels.
The WVU teams strategy was to redesign and re-power the Explorer by replacing the stock V-6 engine with a 2.5 turbo diesel engine from Detroit Diesel Corporation. They further modified the vehicle with the installation of an electric motor that is capable of providing extra power and a hybrid electric mode. The electric motor runs off a battery pack that was designed by the team.
The team chose biodiesel, a 50/50 blend of petroleum diesel and renewable soy-derived fuel, to reduce greenhouse gas impact.
“Our combination of diesel engine efficiency with the ability to recapture energy during braking reduced fuel consumption subtantiallyit’s in the national interest to reduce our dependence on foreign oil,”said Dr. Nigel Clark, faculty advisor to the team.”This year’s student team was exceptionally well qualified: they succeeded in realizing an efficient design, while reducing emissions levels. I’m proud of their success.”
Information about FutureTruck is available on the Web athttp://www.futuretruck.org.
For more information about WVU s FutureTruck team go tohttp://www2.cemr.wvu.edu/~hev/