Designing and building an advanced hybrid vehicle is no easy task; it takes multiple years and many skilled engineers to produce a consumer vehicle. The EcoCAR 2 team at Ohio State faces these challenges daily.
The team decided to use a 1.8L 4-cylinder high compression ratio engine that has been calibrated for E85 fuel. This specific type of fuel was chosen for its high octane rating, which can produce higher efficiencies leading to better overall fuel economy. Calibrating the engine to run on E85 fuel was a difficult task because it required the team to program a complete engine control algorithm from the ground up. But, with the work of many Ohio State students, including engine control systems lead Andy Garcia, the code was completed using Simulink from Mathworks. As a result of these ambitious efforts, the engine can achieve best-in-class efficiency for a spark ignition engine at 40 percent brake thermal efficiency.
In Year Three, Ohio State will try to improve on this already highly efficient engine. Some of the improvements include heated fuel injectors and active knock control. The heated fuel injectors will help improve the start-up of the vehicle in colder conditions by heating the fuel before reaching the combustion chamber. Also, the heated fuel injectors will assist in reducing tailpipe emissions. The active knock control will allow the engine to push the limits of spark advance, creating higher efficiencies.
There is a lot of work ahead to be completed, but the team is excited and ready for the challenge!