1998-02-23

1997 Propane Vehicle Challenge Design Strategy -University of Waterloo 980491

ABSTRACT

The conversion design strategy, and emissions and performance results for a dedicated propane, vapour injected, 1995 Dodge Dakota truck are reported. Data is obtained from the University of Waterloo entry in the 1997 Propane Vehicle Challenge. A key feature of the design strategy is its focus on testing and emissions while preserving low engine speed power for drivability. Major changes to the Dakota truck included the following: installation of a custom shaped fuel tank, inclusion of a fuel temperature control module, addition of a vaporizer and a fuel delivery metering unit, installation of a custom vapour distribution manifold, addition of an equivalence ratio electronic controller, inclusion of a wide range oxygen sensor, addition of an exhaust gas recirculation cooler and installation of thermal insulation on the exhaust system. A competition provided natural gas catalyst was used.

LARGE URBAN CENTERS around the world are faced with the challenge of reducing overall air pollution. With this task in mind, it is evident that automotive exhaust causes a large percentage of hazardous emissions in the environment we live in [1]. The efforts made by large automotive distributors towards reducing emissions should be commended but the problem will continue to increase as population increases [2]. Consequently, this interest in emissions has stimulated the search for alternative fuels to power motorized vehicles. Therefore, a competition amongst North American universities and colleges was issued as a way to meet this challenge with new and innovative ideas [3].

The 1997 Propane Vehicle Challenge (PVC) is designed to allow post-secondary institutions to embark on a current real world engineering problem. The objective of the competition is to successfully convert a 1995 Dodge Dakota pickup truck to dedicated propane, while improving exhaust emissions, and maintaining the original drivability and performance of the vehicle [4].

This paper details the approach used by the University of Waterloo team in achieving a successful propane conversion.

From the beginning, the propane conversion team decided to make exhaust emissions reduction their main focus, possibly at the expense of other driving characteristics. This decision was based on the heavy weighting given to emissions reduction. Despite the small number of team members, modifications were made to the fuel storage, fuel delivery, engine, controls, and exhaust emissions systems. The PVC represents the first time a University of Waterloo team has competed in a fuel conversion competition.

This paper outlines the following topics related to the conversion of the truck to dedicated propane use: team structure, sponsorship, team strategies, modifications undertaken, and summary results.

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