Ohio State secures $3 million hybrid-electric vehicle grant

Aug. 5, 2009
Ohio State University and Vanner, Inc. have announced they are working with industry partners to accelerate the electric vehicle industry in Ohio

Ohio State University and Vanner, Inc. have announced they are working with industry partners to accelerate the electric vehicle industry in Ohio. The university’s Center for Automotive Research (CAR) recently secured state approval for the first $500,000 of a $3 million Ohio Third Frontier Grant designed to help develop market-viable commercial electric vehicles, including trucks and buses. According to the group, these vehicles represent a potential growth rate of 17.1% annually and their advancement is expected to create more than 900 new jobs over the next five years.

Vanner, Inc., American Electric Power, STMicroelectronics, and Fil-Mor Express, Inc. are collaborating with CAR and will use the new CAR testing facilities to research, develop and demonstrate new hybrid electric vehicle technologies. Vanner has already developed converters designed to allow a high-voltage battery in a commercial vehicle to power electrical accessories, eliminating use of an alternator.

The new research is expected to help engineers develop a modular DC-to-AC power converter to further the transition away from using the vehicle’s engine to power auxiliary systems, including decoupling the air conditioning compressor, power steering pump, fans and water pump from the engine. According to the team, the technology could be applied to commercial trucks and transit buses, school buses and construction and agriculture vehicles-- achieving a significant reduction in emissions and long-term fuel cost savings in the bargain.

“We will be able to measure everything onboard a hybrid vehicle, including fuel and energy efficiency,” said Giorgio Rizzoni, professor of mechanical engineering and director of CAR. “One particular goal of our research is to move auxiliary power systems in working trucks and buses off the diesel engine and onto rechargeable electric. These systems run air conditioning or external hydraulic parts and using them often results in long-term idling of the engine, which wastes fuel and pollutes the environment.”

Ohio State University’s CAR is one of the nation’s oldest and most accomplished transportation research centers. The center focuses on discovering sustainable transportation systems and crafting more energy efficient automobiles and power plants. The grant will fund a new testing facility inside CAR with the goal of speeding up the conversion from gas to electric. The facility will be equipped with a heavy-duty chassis dynamometer to simulate real-world operating conditions including load and wind resistance, a large battery cycler system, an environmental chamber, and high-voltage power measurement technology.

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