Penn State Makes Progress on APU

Sitting in the lab for hours on end, one Penn State Advanced Vehicle Team member has dedicated his time to developing the vehicle’s auxiliary power unit (APU) supervisory control algorithm—and it’s just as challenging as it sounds.

“The biggest thing is just getting it all to work together right now,” said controls team member Sam Foran.

Foran said the APU consists of the UQM generator and Weber engine coupled together. It’s the difference between an all-electric and a hybrid vehicle. When the vehicle needs more power, the APU will kick on to create additional electricity from the E-85 powered engine so the operator is not forced to plug the vehicle in to recharge it completely.

Using MATLAB, Simulink, MotoHawk and Stateflow, Foran is working on the algorithm that will control the unit to determine exactly when the generator and engine should turn on. He is also developing a charge-sustaining button that will automatically kick in to maintain the charge level.

Although the most important thing right now is getting the generator up and running, next year the team will focus on refinement and reducing emissions further.