Students take Porsche to electric avenue

Jun 06, 2007
Students take Porsche to electric avenue
Left to right: Gerardo Lao, grad student in material science, Emmanuel Sin, mechanical engineering senior, Ryan King, mechanical engineering sophomore, Jeremy Kuenpel, freshman in mechanical engineering, Craig Wildman, graduate student in mechanical engineering team around the porsche in Sloan Automotive Lab. They are installing batteries in the front trunk compartment of the vehicle. Photo / Donna Coveney

For the past six months a team of MIT students has spent hundreds of hours--many late at night--converting a sleek Porsche 914 into an electric vehicle. Their goal? To demonstrate the viability of advanced electric vehicle technology and to help clarify what research and development has yet to be done.

The Porsche was donated by Professor Yang Shao-Horn of mechanical engineering, who with her husband, Quinn Horn, bought it off eBay and made it available to students interested in converting it to an electric-powered vehicle.

In addition to providing an unusual opportunity for hands-on learning, the project will ultimately yield information valuable to Shao-Horn's research on advanced batteries. Specifically, she and her team in the Electrochemical Energy Laboratory will be able to measure the conditions that batteries encounter inside an operating vehicle.

"In the laboratory we work on materials to make batteries safer, last longer and have higher energy," she said. "But we are also interested in gaining a good perspective on the system view. What's involved in building an electric vehicle, and what's required of the batteries?"

The student project took off a year ago when Valence Technology, Inc., agreed to donate 18 high-tech rechargeable batteries valued at $2,030 each, plus a battery-management system. While today's electric cars generally operate on conventional lead-acid batteries, Valence provided its enabling lithium phosphate rechargeable batteries, which are lighter, last longer, charge up faster, have a longer lifetime and don't pose a safety risk.

Leading the assembly team in the Sloan Automotive Laboratory is senior Emmanuel Sin, who was awarded the Peter Griffith Prize for an "outstanding experimental project and thesis" by the Department of Mechanical Engineering in May.

Sin's main collaborators on the project are sophomore Ryan King of mechanical engineering; freshman Jeremy Kuempel; graduate student Gerardo Jose la O', who initiated the project; and graduate student David Danielson, who obtained funding for supplies and tools from Maniv Energy Capital, LLC. Both la O' and Danielson are in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

To make the conversion, the students replaced the original engine with an electric motor, 12 of the batteries, the battery-management system, various relays and a controller that makes all the components work together. Things haven't always gone smoothly. "There's been a lot of adapting things that don't work as they're designed," said King. "We had to come up with some creative solutions."

In the next few weeks they hope to put the Porsche through its paces. For example, they'll determine its acceleration and top speed and will see how far it will go on a single charge.

According to their best estimates, the car should produce 50 to 60 horsepower and have a top speed of 70 to 100 mph. Plugging it into a wall socket should fully recharge the batteries in four to five hours, and it should then go 100 miles or more before it needs recharging.

Source: MIT

Explore further: A spray-on light show on four wheels: Darkside Scientific

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Engineer aims to connect the world with ant-sized radios

Sep 10, 2014

(Phys.org) —A Stanford engineering team has built a radio the size of an ant, a device so energy efficient that it gathers all the power it needs from the same electromagnetic waves that carry signals to ...

Australia's first fuel cell bicycle

Sep 08, 2014

UNSW researchers have built an Australian-first bicycle that can take riders up to 125 kilometres on a single battery charge and $2 of hydrogen.

Sun-powered desalination for villages in India

Sep 08, 2014

Around the world, there is more salty groundwater than fresh, drinkable groundwater. For example, 60 percent of India is underlain by salty water—and much of that area is not served by an electric grid ...

A novel liquid metal battery for grid-level storage

Sep 04, 2014

The challenge of selling any new idea is that it has to compete with every other new idea. The process is more difficult when the idea's technology hasn't existed and addresses an issue that some industries ...

Recommended for you

Reducing traffic congestion, remotely

30 minutes ago

At the Intelligent Transportation Systems World Congress last week, MIT researchers received one of the best-paper awards for a new system, dubbed RoadRunner, that uses GPS-style turn-by-turn directions to ...

How to print your own cell phone microscope for pennies

38 minutes ago

At one o'clock in the morning, layers of warm plastic are deposited on the platform of the 3D printer that sits on scientist Rebecca Erikson's desk. A small plastic housing, designed to fit over the end of ...

A spray-on light show on four wheels: Darkside Scientific

Sep 14, 2014

Darkside Scientific recently drew a lot of gazes its way in its video release of a car treated to the company's electroluminescent paint called LumiLor. Electroluminescence (EL) is a characteristic of a material ...

Research project on accident-avoiding vehicle concluded

Sep 12, 2014

PRORETA 3 is completed after three and a half years of research work: The comprehensive driver assistance and automated maneuver concept supports the driver in keeping the vehicle in a safe driving corridor- ...

User comments : 0