Subaru donation will boost clean fuel research

October 02, 2012

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Adding clean natural gas to a high-performance vehicle without the loss of performance is no simple task. With the gift of a Subaru WRX to the College of Engineering, the Thomas D. Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute (LTI) now has the ability to see how different clean natural gases affect the performance of the car under various measurements.

The car was originally profiled in Subaru’s Performance Magazine in which readers could help alter the car's interior and exterior to their liking. The car would be driven to events and shows to display the changes it would go through, along with being featured in their magazine. Tom Salvino of Subaru said that the car got so much response that they needed to find something beneficial to do with the car once they were finished with it.

"We wanted it to live on and wanted to donate it to an educational institution for automotive education," said Salvino.

Sheila Gallucci-Davis, an alumna who works at Subaru and is also a member of a Penn State advisory board, suggested that Penn State would be a great home for the further exploration and improvement of the car. The Subaru WRX is now housed at the LTI.

From the project, Salvino says that Subaru hopes to see students benefit from the educational side of working with the car along with ultimately finding a way to develop more fuel-efficient cars.

Creating a fuel-efficient car comes with many challenges. One of the obstacles that Joel Anstrom, director of the Hybrid and Hydrogen Vehicle Research Laboratory, said they faced with this project was finding a place to inject the clean natural gas within the car in a way that doesn't increase the costs or cause a loss of power.

Anstrom and his team will undergo various trials that will focus on measuring the economy, performance, carbon footprint and much more. "This is a chance to answer the question of: Is this type of fuel good for performance?" Anstrom said.

"The ultimate goal is to match or exceed the performance of the equivalent model Subaru running on 93 octane gasoline," said Maximilian Ripepi, a graduate student in engineering mechanics who is a part of the team working on the car.

Ripepi also said that he and Anstrom are planning many other projects for the car. One of them includes an active airfoil design for performance road handling characteristics.

Ripepi and Anstrom frequently enter the car in competitions around Pennsylvania to test its performance capabilities. The competitions are meant to serve as a gauge for the capabilities of the vehicle once it is equipped with the compressed natural gas systems and other adjustments from other projects.


  • Representatives from Penn State and Subaru checked out the modified WRX car the automotive manufacturer donated to the University.

    IMAGE: Subaru

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Last Updated October 03, 2012