What Type of Fuel Does the Penn State Advanced Vehicle Team Want?

Since its participation in the Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions series in 1988, the Penn State Advanced Vehicle Team (PSU AVT) has modified various stock vehicles to make them more energy efficient. During four years of re-engineering a 2016 Chevrolet Camaro, the PSU AVT has considered a few fuels to implement in its vehicle. 

In the past, the PSU AVT has used biodiesel, hydrogen and E85. For the most recent competition, EcoCAR 2: Plugging In to the Future, the team converted the fuel used in a 2013 Chevrolet Malibu to E85. This modified Malibu now runs on 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. For the EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge Competition, the PSU AVT used B20 fuel to fuel its Saturn Vue. Many years after the competition, the Vue has been converted into a conventional, petroleum-run vehicle making it is easier to maintain. For the Challenge X: Crossover to Sustainability Mobility Competition (as part of the AVTC Series), the PSU AVT used biodiesel with hydrogen-assisted combustion to modify the Chevrolet Equinox. Penn State EcoCAR 3 Team

Unlike the previous competitions, the PSU AVT is now tasked with re-engineering a sports car. To maintain power while reducing well-to-wheels (WTW) petroleum and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro, the PSU AVT has limited options of choosing from three fuels: E10, E85 or B20. 

With the E10, the Camaro will be fueled with 90 percent gasoline and 10 percent denatured ethanol. Despite the large percent of petroleum, E10 is a renewable source acceptable for the Camaro. In contrast, B20 is consisted of 80 percent diesel and 20 percent biodiesel. Diesel is an alternative fuel with a great mileage and fuel economy. In addition, biodiesel is a renewable replacement of diesel made from recycled cooking oil and animal fats. With these great green options, what does the PSU AVT really want? 

Spoiler alert. The PSU AVT decided to use E85 for its vehicle because the team’s previous vehicles have proven its effectiveness. The team also thought E85 provides a nice balance between power and eco-friendliness. With the 85 percent denatured ethanol and 15 percent petroleum, the PSU AVT is on its way to begin building a hybrid Chevrolet Camaro in Year Two.