I work with primarily undergraduate students in the area of vehicle design and construction. I have been involved with thirty student built vehicles, each named after the school's Viking mascot. We built Viking 32 to demonstrate carbon fiber honeycomb as an impact absorbing material for the Federal Highway Administration. Viking 32 also became the world’s first biomethane hybrid as we demonstrated “Cow Power to Horsepower”. We used Viking 25 and Viking 32, both hybrid electric vehicles that run on natural gas, to demonstrate technology to utilize Dairy cow derived renewable natural gas (RNG) as a transportation fuel. Viking 40 and Viking 45 were built to demonstrate lower cost and higher rate composite production processes for the body and monocoque chassis. Hybrid electric Viking 45 participated in the Progressive Automotive X Prize as the only U.S. university vehicle and hybrid vehicle to participate in the finals round. The vehicle achieved 172 MPGe for 100 km at 95 km/hr. The latest full size vehicle is Lyn Okse (Norwegian for "Lightning Ox"), a 1/4 ton electric pick-up truck with 300 mm of off-road ground clearance for campus grounds crews. The vehicle demonstrates the future of lower cost, more powerful electric motors and battery packs.
The Vehicle Research Institute operates as a technology development center that provides undergraduate students with opportunities for career specific training and research. Funding comes from a variety of sources including the Department of Energy, Department of Transportation, EPA, Paul Allen Family Foundation, BP, Washington State Department of Agriculture, Whatcom Public Utility District, Boeing, Janicki Industries, Northwest Porsche Club, Danner Corp. and Fluke. Past supporters include the Department of Defense, Fuji Heavy Industries (Subaru), PACCAR, Mazda, Ford, Bentley (parent company Audi), Alcoa, Conoco-Phillips, CNG Fuels of Canada, Chrysler, and DaimlerChrysler.
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