Date of Award

Summer 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Gregory M. Shaver

Second Advisor

Peter H. Meckl

Committee Member 1

Oleg Wasynczuk


With research showing an alarming rate of increase in global warming and thus causing dangerous instabilities in the weather, a strong push has been initiated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Transportation being one of the top offenders in greenhouse gas emissions, has led the drive for improving the efficiency of the modern automobile. One of the current strategies for reducing the emissions produced by the transportation sector is hybrid vehicles powered from both a fuel such as gasoline, diesel, or hydrogen; and electricity. This merger has proven to be effective at decreasing harmful emissions including, carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) and nitrous oxides (NO x ), while also increasing the fuel economy. EcoCAR2 Plugging into the Future, is a three-year collegiate engineering competition established by the U.S. Department of Energy, Argonne National Laboratories, General Motors, and challenges student teams to reduce environmental impact by reducing the overall fuel consumption and well-to-wheel greenhouse gas emissions of a 2013 Chevrolet Malibu without compromising performance, safety and consumer acceptability. The first year of the competition focused on simulations and design analysis that would meet the required targets. The second year of the competition focused on designing the power-train for in-vehicle integration, followed by a refinement and optimization phase during the third year.

The Purdue University EcoCAR team implemented a parallel-through-the-road plug-in hybrid electric vehicle architecture. This pairs an engine powering the front wheels of the vehicle with an electric motor powering the rear wheels. This arrangement gave the flexibility of being able to operate the vehicle in an all-electric mode, an all biodiesel mode, or a combination of both to create maximum power at optimum effciency. For this functionality, a 1.7 L CIDI engine running on Biodiesel B20 fuel, powers the front wheels, and a 103 kW Magna motor powers the rear wheels. In order to power the motor, a high-voltage Energy Storage System was designed and integrated into the vehicle. Simulations and analysis were performed on the high-voltage DC bus to measure the ripple and noise effect produced due to the integrated motor assembly. Similar analysis was performed on the low-voltage system to analyze the dependence of the low-voltage system on the high-voltage system. The electrical implementation focused on harnessing the high-voltage system that would power the vehicle to give an all-electric drive range of 30 miles. Combined with the biodiesel engine, the vehicle gave a driving range of 370 miles, with an installed 10 gallon fuel tank.

Working on the high-voltage system calls for increased level of awareness and safety concern among the team members. To serve this purpose, a comprehensive set of protocols was developed. This covered all aspects from giving a basic understanding of the high-voltage system as a part of knowledge transfer to the team, member certifications to identify team members working on high-voltage, start-up and shut-down procedures, responsibilities, lock-out tag-out procedures, other general guidelines and personal protective equipment information. Following these protocols laid down the foundations for a safe and successful high-voltage work environment.