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Emerging and Alternative Auto Technology

3 Units
Advisory: None

Catalog Description:

Students will gain an understanding of the current state of vehicle technology in the U.S. In addition, they will study the impact of alternative fuels, hybrid-electric drives, and other technology emerging in the transportation marketplace. Emissions, fuel economy benefits and regulations, and safety and service requirements will be examined. The interaction of issues such as economic viability, energy independence, the regulatory environment, infrastructure, and the consumer environment will be examined from the standpoint of the ability of each technology to solve transportation-related energy and air pollution problems. The global impact of the automobile will be studied.  

Course Objectives:

Upon completion of the course students will be able to:
A. Explain current energy use in the U.S., calculate the percentage of renewable energy in the system, and determine the total growth in renewable fuels over the past five years.
B. Explain vehicle emission test procedures and which emission constituents are regulated.
C. Explain the impact of vehicle miles traveled on overall pollution. Explain how alternative fuels may help reduce specific pollutants. Discuss the global impact of vehicle growth (worldwide sales) and its impact on energy consumption. 
D. Identify and describe the functionality of fuel storage and engine/power components of advanced automotive and alternative fuel technologies including internal combustion (hydrogen, propane, compressed natural gas and liquefied natural gas, ethanol and methanol, and biodiesel) and electric propulsion vehicles (hybrid electric, plug-in hybrids, battery electric hybrids, fuel cell electric vehicles).
E. State the special safety precautions required to ensure safe driver operation and maintenance with each fuel and engine technology (liquid fuels, gaseous fuels, and high voltage electricity [batteries and fuel cells])
F. Describe the properties of each fuel and storage technology, including conditions required for storage and energy content of liquid fuels, gaseous fuels, electricity (batteries).
G. Describe the primary sources for each of the alternative fuel technologies (feedstocks), and explain the difference between alternative fuels that use a closed (renewable) cycle versus an open cycle.
H. Write the relevant chemical equations that describe the reactions relevant to the use of these fuels and list the major products and by-products produced from these reactions.
I. Identify current limitations to electric vehicle energy storage, and list future technologies that may address these issues. Include issues such as degradations and disposal for each system.
J. Explain the difference between conventional hybrids and plug-in hybrids, discussing the pros and cons of each.
K. Compare alternative fuels and vehicle technologies based on total energy requirements (including those energy requirements needed to produce, transport, and store fuels and those required to construct and dispose of the vehicle) and air quality impacts.
L. Discuss the political and economic issues promoting or preventing the adoption of alternative fuel/vehicle technologies in the U.S.
M. Discuss the impact of transportation technologies and policies with respect to global climate change and U.S. energy independence. Compare the energy use of the transportation sector versus overall U.S. energy use.
N. Identify major federal and state regulations and consumer issues that may determine the extent to which alternative fuels and advanced vehicle technologies gain acceptance in the future. 

Course Content:

55%   Current and future engine/fuel technologies and system components
Propane, hydrogen, compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas, ethanol, methanol, biodiesel, electric, gasoline/electric hybrid
3%     Safety precautions:  fueling and handling procedures
10%   Fuel properties and chemical compositions
4%     Chemistry of combustion
8%     Emission constituents, testing, and measurement
10%   Electric vehicle technologies, energy storage, and chemistry of batteries
10%   Past, current and future energy use in the U.S., including but not limited to the regulatory/political environment, the economic environment, the social environment, and consumer acceptance within the transportation sector.