21st Century Automotive Challenge puts spotlight on alternative energy vehicles

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The future of automobiles appeared at the annual 21st Century Automotive Challenge on campus over the weekend.

The event, which featured a range of alternative energy vehicles, including electric, gasoline-hybrid electric, pluggable hybrid electric and biodiesel, was hosted by the Thomas D. Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute's Hybrid and Hydrogen Vehicle Research Laboratory.

In addition to the contest, competition vehicles and other cars were displayed April 12 at the MorningStar Solar Home, located on Porter Road between Park and College avenues. 

"Our participants range from the hobbyist to the entrepreneur, from a team of high school students to current market vehicles," said Joel Anstrom, director of the 21st Century Automotive Challenge and a senior research associate at the Larson Institute.

The 21st Century Automotive Challenge partnered with Penn State's Sustainability Institute to integrate vehicle-to-building and vehicle-to-grid technology into the competition format between competing vehicles and the center's award-winning MorningStar Solar Home.

"This competition format will demonstrate the reality of car, grid and home interconnectivity," said David Riley, associate professor of architectural engineering, "especially pertinent with the emergence of production pluggable electric and hybrid cars in the American consumer marketplace."

With vehicles representing a range of advanced technologies, the competition events included inspection and dynamic tests as well as travel scenarios representing a busy day of errands and a day of leisure travel. Participants included teams from the former American Tour de Sol Electric Vehicle Championship and the Eastern Electric Vehicle Club (EEVC). Scoring officials included professionals representing Penn State engineering alumni, Penn State's Department of Energy-sponsored Graduate Automotive Technology Education Program, Central Pennsylvania Institute of Technology and the local racing community.

"We are excited to be centering this competition in Penn State's domain, where many different types of advanced alternative fuel vehicle technologies have been designed, built and researched, and where infrastructure for various means of fueling exist," said Anstrom.

Vehicles on public display April 12 included:

-- Chevrolet Volt - Sustainability Institute

-- Nissan Leaf - Christopher Rahn, EV Owner

-- Toyota Prius - James Natale, HEV Owner

-- HEV Ford F150 Pickup - Paul Kydd, PartnershipsOne LLC

-- Chevy Malibu ethanol HEV - Penn State EcoCAR Team

-- Saturn Vue biodiesel HEV - Penn State EcoCAR Team

-- Ranger EV - Dennis Stitcher, EEVC Member

-- Chevrolet Fiero EV - Pennsylvania College of Technology Team

-- Citroen Deux Chevaux EV - Methacton High School

-- Chevy S10 EV - Alan Arrison, EEVC Member

-- Biodiesel Volkswagen Jetta - Jonathan Bartlett, Hobbyist

-- Biodiesel Volkswagen Jetta - Ed Kriebick, EEVC Member

-- 2013 Zero S electric motorcycle - Ken Barbour, EV Owner

-- Brammo Empulse electric motorcycle - Sustainability Institute

-- Vectrix EV Motorcycle - Cory Rideout, EV OwnerSubaru CNG bi-fuel project - Penn State Hybrid and Hydrogen Vehicle Research Lab

-- Biodiesel bread truck science display - Methacton High School

Last Updated April 14, 2014