Arizona Technology and Innovation: ASU EcoCAR 3

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Arizona State University is among 16 universities chosen out of 100 applicants to be in the Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition EcoCar 3 program. It’s a four-year contest and students at the ASU Polytechnic campus in Mesa will work on transforming a Chevrolet Camaro to run on alternative fuels. Abdel Mayyas, the Lead Faculty Advisor for the ASU-EcoCAR 3 project, will discuss his group’s mission.

Ted Simons: Tonight's edition of Arizona Technology and Innovation looks at alternative fuels. Arizona State University has been chosen to compete in an advanced vehicle technology program called EcoCAR 3. It's a four year contest with students at ASU's Polytechnic campus in Mesa, working to run a Chevy Camaro on alternative fuels. Abdel Mayyas is the lead faculty advisor for ASU's EcoCAR 3 project. Good to see you, thanks for joining us.

Abdel Mayyas: Thank you.

Ted Simons: All right give me a better definition here, EcoCAR 3, what are we talking about?

Abdel Mayyas: Well, the EcoCAR 3 actually is a four-year collegiate engineering student program that builds on the 26 years of a proud history of affirmative energy advanced vehicle technology competition. Which actually gives the opportunity for the engineering students to be exposed for unparalleled experience, and deal with the latest automotive technology.

Ted Simons: And again, you mentioned the Department of Energy, General Motors involved in this as well, correct?

Abdel Mayyas: Yes of course, it's a partnership between the Department of Energy and General Motors. So it's established by Department of Energy and General Motors and managed by the Argonne National Laboratory.

Ted Simons: Now again, we're talking about an alternative fuel Camaro. Let's define terms here. Alternative fuel, what does that encompass?

Abdel Mayyas: Well, as dictated by the organizers, which is the Department of Energy and General Motors, is we're allowed to use the alternative fuels of the type of B-20 and E-85. So we're looking at electrification for the Camaro. So we are going to include alternative powertrains in terms of extrication of the Camaro. While maintaining its performance and the iconic and muscle car of Camaro though.

Ted Simons: Okay, what you said made exactly zero sense to me. What are we talking? Is it a fuel cell? What's going on here?

Abdel Mayyas: Well it's advanced and alternative power train and that's in the electrification portion. So I don't think it's a fuel cell, I'm not sure if the sponsors will support this type of technology. But the, you know the, two types of fuel that I mentioned the B-20 and the E-85 ethanol is the two types of fuel that approved by the sponsor that we can incorporate into the Camaro.

Ted Simons: And the sponsor does have to approve?

Abdel Mayyas: Oh, yes, it's subject to the approval of the sponsors, yeah of course.

Ted Simons: Now it sounds to me, correct me if I'm wrong here, the first year you're just simply designing the prototype for this thing, correct?

Abdel Mayyas: Correct yes, so it's a four-years program, it's structured such that the first year the students will do you know a virtual prototype for the design on how they will re-engineer that protection vehicle, which is the Camaro, into an alternative power trains. And the second year they will do the integration and the design. This third year it will be more refining. The fourth year will be just finalizing the product.

Ted Simons: And indeed to a showroom quality vehicle, I would imagine.

Abdel Mayyas: Exactly.

Ted Simons: Do you have to do marketing; did I see that as well? Marketing too?

Abdel Mayyas: Yes. So the participating universities actually have I mean must actually recruit teams, spanning many engineering disciplines, including mechanical, electrical, control and computer and software engineering, as well as project management, marketing and communication, as well.

Ted Simons: You know you mentioned the fuels that were approved, and I think some people will say well that's already out there then, what's new, what's approved, what can change with this?

Abdel Mayyas: Yeah so this version of EcoCAR 2, we are branding new as Arizona State University at the Polytechnic school to the EcoCAR 3. So let's say actually it's through that they add one additional component this time, which is the innovation. So in addition to the existing technology of you know alternative fuels and alternative power trains we will have actually an innovation part. So the team has to come up with an innovation in their designs.

Ted Simons: And as far as that innovation and that design and what you're coming up with, is the bottom line -- what is it? Is it efficiency? Is it miles per gallon? Is it -- How long it can go without a this that or the other? What's the goal here?

Abdel Mayyas: So while competing with other participating universities, of course North America, our Arizona State University EcoCAR team will be challenged to design and build a vehicle that, when compared to the production vehicle, which is the Camaro donated by General Motors, will reduce fuel consumption, reduce the tailpipe emissions, the greenhouse gases, and of course maintain the consumer the consumer responsibility in terms of performance, utility and safety, as well as meeting the energy and environmental criteria, considering cost and innovation.

Ted Simons: And there were 16 universities competing now in this thing?

Abdel Mayyas: Including Arizona State Polytechnic.

Ted Simons: Yeah, out of 100 Universities applying how did ASU get in there?

Abdel Mayyas: Well it's difficult to get acceptance in this program, especially for brand-new teams with no prior experience. However, our ASU team actually had an overwhelming faculty support as well as the infrastructure that in order to create top notch automotive educational program.

Ted Simons: So basically, and again, you've got to have an engineering team, you've got to have a project management team, probably have a marketing team, as well. You got to have a lot of teams out there.

Abdel Mayyas: Correct yeah. We have three main teams; the engineering is split into five sub-teams. Then the project management split into another several sub-teams and the communication, which is the marketing and the outreach team.

Ted Simons: And housed and managed at the Polytechnic campus correct?

Abdel Mayyas: Yes it is.

Ted Simons: Okay, out there I mean some things are going on out there and we try to talk about it a little bit here, but some folks kind of aren't quite aware. ASU has a reputation for like auto-engineering, it sounds like it's developing. True?

Abdel Mayyas: It is true. Our automotive engineering joined, still it's about four years old, I joined this school two years ago as a junior faculty. However, this is our opportunity at Arizona State, at the Polytechnic school in order to promote or automotive engineering educational program. And actually see the ground in order to build and gain reputation as the top automotive engineering program in the west region, so we're looking at that.

Ted Simons: All right. And if you win, or even if you don't win, who gets to keep the car?

Abdel Mayyas: Well, the schools I mean can keep the cars for further research, of course.

Ted Simons: Okay so no one gets to drive away saying I'm the king of the hill here?

Abdel Mayyas: No, of course not.

Ted Simons: All right well good luck. The project begins when August, September, somewhere along those lines?

Abdel Mayyas: It starts in late August in the fall of August, and concludes in 2018 in the summer, so it's four years.

Ted Simons: All right. Good luck to you.

Abdel Mayyas: Thank you so much.

Ted Simons: Thank you.

Abdel Mayyas:Lead Faculty Advisor, ASU-EcoCAR 3;

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