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Chevrolet Equinox
Each of the Challenge X teams received a Chevrolet Equinox, a crossover vehicle that combines elements of a sport utility vehicle and a passenger car.
University of Michigan Challenge X Students
University of Michigan students work on their computer model during the Challenge X competition. During the three-year-long competition, student teams work to minimize energy consumption and reduce emissions while maintaining vehicle performance.

Challenge X: Year One Results

by Randy Sharp

The University of Waterloo won first place in Year One of the Challenge X: Crossover to Sustainability competition at the General Motors University in Auburn Hills, Mich. Challenge X is a three-year-long competition to minimize energy consumption and reduce emissions of hybrid vehicles while maintaining performance. The Canadian team's winning design integrated a nickel-metal hydride battery with a hydrogen fuel cell.

The competition, sponsored chiefly by General Motors Corporation (GM) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy FreedomCAR and Vehicle Technologies Program through Argonne, challenged 17 universities in the United States and Canada to simulate a design for a hybrid vehicle in one year. Each school met GM's requirements and is working to integrate their unique drive systems into a 2005 Chevrolet Equinox. Designs ranged from reformulated gasoline hybrids to hydrogen fuel-cell hybrids. The University of Akron took second place with a biodiesel hybrid built from a 1.9-liter Volkswagen engine. In third place was Ohio State University with a biodeisel hybrid design using a Fiat engine.

"The impressive applied technologies that I have seen have come from students' creativity and design, said Steve Gurski, lead technical coordinator of the Challenge X program at Argonne.

The competition is meant to simulate the real-world vehicle design process, beginning with computer modeling, then integration of a design into a vehicle before testing and refinement. Argonne's Powertrain System Analysis Toolkit (PSAT) was integral in the simulations used to determine feasibility of students' drivetrain systems. PSAT is a previous winner of R&D Magazine's "100 most technologically significant new products award.

"General Motors views this program as a way to cultivate new engineers capable of getting the most energy output from 'well to wheels,' the term for the amount of energy required to extract, refine and burn fuel, said Bob Larsen, director of Argonne's Center for Transportation Research.

The collaborative effort that GM is making involves the U.S. and Canadian governments as well as a host of industry sponsors including BP, Michelin, LG subsidiary Ballard Power Systems and 30 other sponsors.

Challenge X follows in the footsteps of FutureTruck, another DOE- and Argonne-sponsored competition, in its multiyear approach. "In past," Gurski said, "students had one year to make significant improvements on the vehicles once the competition was over. What we expect to see in three years of refinement is some fantastic vehicles.

Since 1987, DOE has sponsored more than 45 advanced vehicle technology competitions through Argonne National Laboratory.

The overall standing of the teams is as follows:

  1. University of Waterloo
  2. University of Akron
  3. The Ohio State University
  4. Virginia Tech
  5. The Pennsylvania State University
  6. Texas Tech University
  7. University of California, Davis
  8. University of Texas, Austin
  9. Mississippi State University
  10. University of Wisconsin – Madison
  11. University of Tulsa
  12. University of Tennessee
  13. West Virginia University
  14. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
  15. San Diego State University
  16. University of Michigan
  17. Michigan Technical University

July 15, 2005


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