Wayne State University (WSU) has a decades-long history of leading research in the areas of engine combustion, emission controls, alternative and renewable fuels, electric vehicle technology, and automotive safety. At the center of the North American automotive industry, WSU is home to various research centers that collaborate with numerous federal and state agencies, local manufacturers and suppliers. For instance, researchers in its Center for Automotive Research were responsible for the first systematic studies of cold-starting of gasoline and diesel engines, and researchers in the National Biofuels Energy Lab are developing novel heterogeneous catalysts to directly generate biodiesel from waste grease, providing a renewable alternative for petroleum-derived motor fuels. Additionally, the Bioengineering Center—which promotes fundamental discoveries, design and development of technologies and education in the understanding, mitigation and prevention of impact associated injuries—is renowned for pioneering research developing seat belts and airbags that are now required components of production vehicles.
WSU leads the way in education and programming in these areas, too. WSU is home to the nation's first electric-drive vehicle engineering program (funded by a $5 million Department of Energy award) and alternative energy technology master's degree program. It's a partner in the Michigan Academy for Green Mobility Alliance (MAGMA), which is a collaborative effort among automotive manufacturing employers, educational institutions and professional associations to provide rapid skill growth in green technology solutions for advanced mobility to meet industry needs. It's also a partner institution in the Center for Advanced Automotive Technology, which aims to provide leadership for a regional alliance of two-year colleges, school districts and universities, working in collaboration with industry, professional associations and government agencies, to prepare the technical workforce for the design, development, manufacturing, service and recycling sectors of the advanced automotive industry.
Wayne State is one of only 15 North American universities chosen to compete in EcoCAR 2.
Lab tour breakdown
The technical tour will include visits to a number of Wayne State University College of Engineering research labs. Specifically, tour participants will visit the:
- Center for Automotive Research (CAR) combustion engines test cells, fuels and battery laboratories;
- Alternative Energy Technology (AET) Laboratory, which is focused on the development of next generation electrode materials for improved power and energy density of Li-Ion batteries, as well as on benchmarking the charging and discharging performance of battery modules and packs using state of the art battery cyclers;
- facilities for the development of catalytic processes to produce green drop-in diesel from waste grease;
- Optical Engine Laboratory, which comprises a single-cylinder optical compression-ignition research engine uniquely located in a climatic chamber capable of reaching temperatures as low as -40°C, allowing the investigation of combustion processes at cold-start conditions with laser diagnostics;
- a second cold room that is devoted to the study of entire engine-starter-battery systems and can attain even lower temperatures of -50°C; and
- combustion ionization laboratories, where they will watch a demonstration on the autonomous operation of a fuel neutral diesel engine with a multitude of fuels using the ion current sensing technology.
- Direct Injection Engine Combustion Research Lab, where they will watch spray visualization, in-cylinder combustion and CFD movies.