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The Vehicle Innovation Team (VIT) at Colorado State University is participating in the EcoCAR 2 competition, a three-year collegiate engineering competition that provides real-world experience to educate the next generation of automotive engineers. Through this competition students at the university level are able to obtain applied engineering experience, which readies them for innovative work in the automotive industry. The competition challenges 15 universities across North America to reduce the environmental impact of a Chevrolet Malibu without compromising the vehicle’s performance, safety and consumer acceptability.
CSU’s VIT has created a vehicle called the H2eV, a fuel cell plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (FCPHEV) that uses a combination of compressed hydrogen gas and electricity. According to CSU PhD student Benjamin Geller, “Before we entered this competition we were looking at the best technologies that are out there for really creating a great vehicle.”
Geller also spoke about the work CSU’s VIT has done to create a unique and successful design. “We did a lot of simulation, modeling and analysis conceptually before we chose this design. We are fortunate to have a great deal of experience from our faculty and sponsors to be able to support the knowledge base that is required for this level of technology,” Geller said.After three years of participation in this competition, the CSU VIT is now sending the H2eV off to Argonne National Laboratory for preliminary demonstration and testing for this year’s round of the competition. With support from mentors at GM, as well as numerous faculty at Colorado State University, the H2eV has become an exceptional model and has allowed the CSU team to progress successfully in the EcoCAR 2 competition. The mentors and staff at CSU are excited about the design and functioning of the H2eV. Dr. Thomas Bradley provided encouragement to the VIT at the send-off celebration for the vehicle last Thursday, saying “The vehicle that we have built is the lowest greenhouse gas emissions vehicle in the competition. It is the lowest emissions vehicle that is possible—that has ever been developed. If we can demonstrate this car to automakers, regulators, and everyone in the world, then this car will literally change the world… it will change the way the world works.”
After the success of the EcoCAR2 competition, Colorado State University would like to also participate in the upcoming EcoCAR3 competition which would provide another opportunity for the CSU students to re-design a Chevy Malibu car using their creativity and innovation. Participation in the EcoCAR 2 competition has already opened opportunities for many of the graduate students on the team, and many have received employment offers from major automotive companies.