Electrical Engineering student Mike Hand is the 2013-2014 recipient of the Bosch Sustainability Fellowship, a new $20,000 award given to a promising University of Michigan Master’s student each year. His fellowship work will explore ways to further improve diesel calibration efficiency, which could impact development time and reduce cost.
Diesel engines are a staple of long-haul transport and compose about 50 percent of the passenger car market in Europe, but they’ve yet to catch on in America. While diesel engines are 20-40% more efficient than gasoline engines, the production of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions released by diesel combustion is more than 30% greater than that of gasoline combustion. U.S. regulations on NOx emissions necessitate expensive aftertreatment systems, which require extensive calibration work. Few passenger vehicles with a diesel option have been available in the U.S.; however, in 2013, several major auto manufacturers- including Chevy, Jeep and Mazda- announced the introduction of new diesel models, leading Popular Mechanics to christen this “the year of the diesel”.
Semi trucks are of course widely used in America. The diesel-powered machines weigh 40 tons, get between six and eight miles to the gallon, and drive a collective 140 billion miles per year on U.S. highways. Almost 70% of all U.S. freight reaches its destination via semi truck, and an estimated 168,000,000 gallons of diesel are used in America each day.
A more intelligent diesel engine system paves the way for better efficiency in long-haul trucks and possible wider usage in private vehicles. Hand’s fellowship research will explore using advanced control and diagnosis strategies to further reduce NOx emissions. Hand proposes the use of recently developed NOx sensors to enable closed-loop feedback control and model-based diagnosis, which would allow greater system robustness, less calibration, and shorter development times, all while maintaining tighter control of NOx generation.
“This is a lot of math, but you still get to see the applications pretty quickly,” says Hand of the project. “That’s what I like about this line of research and this project in particular. With the freedom afforded by this fellowship, we can work to accomplish something that might otherwise not be realizable in this way. In general, diesel is a lot more efficient than gasoline, and so if these systems work the way we think they can, it would make sense to have- maybe not all of or even the majority of the fleet- but definitely more than today’s 3 percent of the cars on the road utilizing diesel.”
Bosch Sustainability Fellowship awardees must be master’s students conducting promising research linking sustainable engineering to applications of societal importance such as energy conversion, storage, or efficiency. The fellowship is co-administered by the University of Michigan Energy Institute and the College of Engineering.
Robert Bosch, LLC CFO and Bosch Community Fund board member Maximiliane Straub says of the award, “Bosch is proud to support education, research and independent thinking on a variety of fronts. The future requires creating innovative, sustainable solutions that can be applied to our everyday lives. We look forward to hearing the ideas the students will develop as part of this fellowship. In addition, we welcome their participation as they assist the Bosch team in serving as mentors to elementary through high school students to advance science, technology, engineering and math education at various schools we support in Southeast Michigan.”
Bosch, a manufacturer of automotive, consumer, industrial, energy and building technologies, has a long research relationship with the University of Michigan, and over 90 Michigan alumni are employed there. The sustainability fellowship is new, but Bosch has sponsored a number of engineering research projects related to energy topics at the University of Michigan including advanced combustion, lithium-air batteries research, and hydraulic hybrid modeling.
About the University of Michigan Energy Institute
The demand for economically and environmentally sound energy solutions is urgent and global. At the Energy Institute, we build on the University of Michigan’s strong energy research heritage at the heart of the nation’s automotive and manufacturing industries to develop and integrate science, technology and policy solutions to pressing energy challenges.
About the Bosch Community Fund:
The Bosch Community Fund, a U.S.-based foundation established in September 2011, awards more than $3 million annually in grants to various 501(c)(3) organizations and educational institutions. The BCF focuses primarily on the enrichment of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education and the advancement of environmental sustainability initiatives.