Sustainability for Superbus

Principal Investigator(s):

Will Northrop, Professor, Mechanical Engineering

Project summary:

The Superbus Project was originally funded by the University of Minnesota Institute for Renewable Energy and the Environment (IREE) to evaluate the energy flows and emissions of two buses: an advanced series hybrid bus and a state-of-the-art, conventional powertrain bus. The project was established as a partnership between the Mechanical Engineering Department, Applied Economics Department, Metro Transit, and Center for Transportation Studies. Other partners included Cummins Inc. and BAE Systems. Two buses were fully instrumented and in-use data has been collected over the course of one year, including three two-week, seasonal periods of prescribed routes. The main results of the research performed thus far include: 1) in-use emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and carbon dioxide (CO2) as a function of bus technology, route, ambient temperature, traffic, and driving style; 2) a computer simulation of the two buses that predicts energy requirements over a prescribed route; 3) development of a novel, automated passenger counter based on passenger weight; and 4) initiation of a multidisciplinary research topic on Big Data analytics as applied to transit bus operational data. As a result of the initial activities, significant in-use data has been, and continues to be, collected from the instrumented buses. These data are rich in additional findings and additional funding is sought to extend this exciting research as the original IREE project has ended. The purpose of this proposed project is to enable continuation of Superbus until further funding can be obtained through external grants and contracts. This project is intended to provide support for Andrew Kotz, the graduate research assistant (GRA), and to provide additional resources for the principal investigator, Northrop, to write proposals to external sponsors for continued funding of this research. Potential funding sources currently being investigated include The Transportation Research Board (TRB), the California Air Resources Board (CARB), Cummins Inc., Metropolitan Council, and National Science Foundation (NSF).

Project details: