The University of Toledo University Transportation Center

Toledo Technology Academy - Tribrid Vehicle Project

Focus Area: K-12 Alternate Energy

Principal Investigator:

Ted Richardson
Toledo Technology Academy
3301 Upton Avenue
Toledo, OH 43613

Project Dates: 07/01/2009 – 06/30/2010

Project Award: FY2010

UT-UTC Designation: TTA-1


Alternate Energies team members will research and test methods of converting vegetable oil to mono alkyl esters (bio-diesel fuel). The perfected technique will be used as a laboratory activity in the Applied Chemistry curriculum.

Senior Engineering Design students will develop an automated bio-diesel batch processor. This device will use a programmable logic controller, pumps, valves and appropriate sensors to automate the measuring, mixing, production and separation of bio-diesel products.

Older electric golf carts use a resistance bank and a series of switches for speed control. Whenever the vehicle is on it is using full power. Some of that power is used to propel the vehicle forward the rest is turned to waste heat. When the vehicle is moving at full speed all of the energy is directed to the wheels. At slow speeds much of the energy is turned to heat in the resistors. A solid state motor controller varies the energy supplied to the motor to achieve speed control. This more efficient use of energy allows the vehicle to travel farther between recharging cycles. The addition of an engine/generator set to the vehicle will extend its range indefinitely. This series hybrid configuration will charge the batteries as the vehicle is being driven. The advantage of a hybrid drive train is that a much smaller engine with lower fuel requirements can be used for normal movement with battery power supplying peak demand. The addition of solar panels to the vehicle will allow the vehicle to recharge during periods of inactivity when away from a recharging station. With voltage and charge monitoring instruments students will be able to compare energy flow from the components of the tribrid system and monitor energy conversion efficiency.

Students will gather baseline data from the unmodified vehicle. They will install battery monitoring instrumentation and a solid state speed controller. They will compare that data to the vehicle with solid state speed controller installed. A diesel engine/alternator set will be added to the vehicle to charge batteries while driving and solar panels will be installed on the vehicle roof. The finished vehicle will be driven in local festival and holiday parades. It will be used to demonstrate energy conversion to Applied Chemistry students. It will also be exhibited at the Toledo Auto Show to demonstrate tribrid technology.

UT-UTC Grant 
Total Project 
Final Report:

Final Report  PDF Symbol 

Last Updated: 6/9/16