Daily Update 5/27/1999

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Thursday, May 27, 1999 Latham, NY- Shaker Junior High School Display and Saratoga Springs, NY- Congress Park Display

A rather sunny day was ahead for Team NJ, it was welcoming sign after all the rain this week. At Shaker Junior High School, our display booth was once again bustling with eager students yearning to gain information about our hybrid vehicle. Dr. Russell Moore, Principal, Shaker Jr. High School and Dr. James Jackson, Principal, Shaker High School as well as others were on hand to wish all the teams well at the Start Ceremony. Dr. Robert Wills, Technical Co-Director, NESEA Tour; Partner, Advanced Energy Systems, was present during the ceremony to see the vehicles off as they were on their way to complete the fifth leg of the race. Historic Congress Park in Saratoga Springs, NY was the next stop on the tour.

Team NJ had a very busy afternoon while greeting people at our display as well seeing the NJ Venturer off as it competed in the Range event. Thomas Thompson, Executive Director, NESEA, J. Michael O'Conner, Mayor of Saratoga Springs, and Nancy Hazard, Director of NESEA Tour, saw all the vehicles drive off to complete this very momentous part of the tour.

NESEA volunteers for the day were Richard Pascual (Rutgers-CAIT) and John Musto (Rutgers-CAIT). John said, "I helped NESEA set up, put up banners for the sponsors, stood at the entrances of the long laps and short laps during the Range event and answered questions, removed directional signs on the short lap, found which vehicles were towed and which vehicles were still there, and took everything back down."

All the teams had a chance to participate in a talent show and various team presentations during the afternoon in the gorgeous park.

Ken Kleinfelter (MG Industries) said, "since there are no rules for the use of hydrogen according to the NESEA rulebook, I called a meeting with NESEA to discuss the rules for Team NJ's use of hydrogen fuel in the NJ Venturer." Bill Russo (MG Industries), Howard Bond (MG Industries), and Lyle Rawlings (FIRST, Inc.) were at the meeting. A number of Team NJ student members sat in on the meeting for a learning experience. Ben Fratto (Rowan University) noted, "we brainstormed possible solutions and learned how these types of things run in the real world." A report was submitted to NESEA regarding the feasibility of a mass-produced vehicle that uses hydrogen that is both economic and efficient. Ken noted, "since Team NJ possessed the knowledge to give them the correct information we felt we could write up the report ourselves."

"The goal of the NJ Venturer was the first zero emissions vehicle to achieve an improved driving range by combining the storage of electricity in the batteries with electricity produced by a fuel cell fueled by bottled hydrogen. The vehicle's only emission is pure water. Therefore, the Range event was a test to see if this goal could be reached. Calculations by Team NJ indicated that a 300-mile range was expected. But after traveling nearly 80 miles, there was a failure in the fuel cell's boost converter- the electronic device which converts 39 volt DC power from the fuel to 180 volts DC to change the batteries. A scramble ensued to locate the designer of the boost converter and bring him to the site. Unfortunately, according to the Tour de Sol race rules, if a certain time limit passes during any given lap, the vehicle is eliminated from the Range event," said Lyle Rawlings (FIRST, Inc.). Team NJ was left broken-hearted mobilizing to put the vehicle back in operation for the final leg of the race. Frantic activity swirled around one of the large team's hotel rooms which was converted into a portable electronics laboratory. Unrelated electronic equipment was cannibalized to obtain the necessary parts with the help of team members from Rowan University who are electrical engineering students. The boost converter was quickly redesigned, repaired, and replaced, and the NJ Venturer was back on the road. Remaining scores to be added include efficiency, greenhouse gas emissions, and the Autocross event.

The final day of the 1999 NESEA Tour de Sol race, Friday, May 28, will determine whether the NJ Venturer returns home with the first place award, and show that completely pollution free transportation is an alternative that will await us in the future. Please check back tomorrow and keep following along with us on the 1999 NESEA Tour de Sol.

Please send comments and suggestions to szary@civeng.rutgers.edu.