Dr. M. David Checkel, P.Eng. . .developing fuel-smart
Creating an automotive engine that can recognize different
fuels and burn them effectively and efficiently is the goal
of a national team led by a University of Alberta researcher.
Dr. M. David Checkel, P.Eng., a mechanical engineering professor,
is coordinating the team of researchers at the U of A, the
University of Windsor and Simon Fraser University.
The team recently filled its tank with funding of up to
$986,000 from the AUTO21 Network of Centres of Excellence
and several industry supporters.
The research explores variable valve timing engine controls,
which are currently mechanically operated. The team is investigating
ways to move the controls from fixed mechanics to an electronic
system that offers more flexibility in operating systems.
Once developed, an electronically controlled valve timing
system could be used on an engine that burns gasoline or
other alternative fuels.
“Such an engine offers several benefits, including
increased fuel economy and lower emissions,” said Dr.
Checkel. “When you review the lifecycle of fuel in
the ‘well to wheels process,’ the energy required
to refine the fuel and the emissions created from that process
can be reduced because the engine is able to efficiently
burn a lower quality gas or gas blend, or even a fuel developed
from raw tar sands, without affecting the overall emission
of greenhouse gases.”
“Dr. Checkel’s research is an important component
of the Faculty of Engineering’s clean energy research
program,” said Engineering Dean Dr. David T. Lynch,
P.Eng. “ We look forward to significant environmental
benefits from the work of this inter-university team under
Dr. Checkel’s strong leadership.”
“We are pleased to support this innovative project
that will enhance today’s automotive engine,” says
Dr. Peter Frise, CEO and program leader of AUTO21. “In
addition to the technical knowledge created, the project
provides an excellent training opportunity for nine students
at the three universities to work with expert researchers
and also collaborate with industry representatives. This
experience will help develop the students into the innovators
of Canada’s future automotive sector.”
The project is one of seven new research projects worth a
total of $6.5 million being supported by the AUTO21 Network
of Centres of Excellence and industry. AUTO21 is a federal
program that supports 28 other auto-related research and
development projects at 33 universities across Canada,
with combined federal and industry funding of more than
$8 million per year.
The new projects add 32 researchers and 53 student researchers
to the AUTO21 investigative team. Over 250 university and
industry researchers, and over 250 graduate and post-graduate
students are already part of the AUTO21 team. AUTO21 is funded
by the Networks of Centres of Excellence of Canada program.
AUTO21 was the subject of a June 2002 PEGG cover story.