Supermileage Systems Enterprise Brushless DC Motor Controller Project

Institution: Michigan Technological University
Funders (35)
Views (3)

Why This Project Is Important 

This project will open up Michigan Technological University's Supermileage Systems Enterprise team to a whole new competition. It will open up the knowledge base for our team and make us more rounded with the types of projects we complete. The new competition we are competing in is the Shell Eco-Marathon and this will be our first time attending!

Project Description 

The SAE Supermileage Enterprise team is branching out and competing in a new competition! The Shell Eco-Marathon competition challenges students to design and build an ultra energy-efficient vehicle, covering the most distance using the least amount of energy. The SAE Supermileage team has taken on this new challenge and is attacking it with a Brushless Direct Current Motor, or BLDC. This is a new and exciting project for the Supermileage team as we are branching out into the world of electric motors. Electric motors come in many different types. Each type has different internal structure that can completely change how they should be controlled. The benefit of using more complex electric motors is that they are typically more energy efficient. Since Shell Eco-Marathon is judged based off of efficiency, we decided to brave the challenges presented by a more complex motor type. The motor we chose to use is of the Brushless DC type (also known as a Permanent-Magnet AC motor) and is a 300 Watt motor. This type has powerful permanent magnets in the rotor (the part that spins), which are repelled by magnetic fields produced by wire coils in the stator (the outer shell). Using embedded computers and power electronics, we can carefully control the magnetic fields produced by the coils so that they always apply as much force to the rotor as possible.

The purpose of our project is to design, build, and test the device that controls the magnetic fields in the stator. Building a motor controller is a daunting task, requiring us to bring together knowledge of motors, controls, power electronics, and solid-state materials. So far, we have completed our initial design, and have already started prototyping. The complete prototyped vehicle has a theoretical drag coefficient of 0.09 and an overall weight of 136 lbs. We have a goal of achieving 500 km/kWh, which converts to roughly 9000 MPGe. Upon achieving this goal we would take first place at the competition with a large lead, based on results from previous years. The new Tesla P85D gets 93 MPGe and the Nissan Leaf gets 114 MPGe. When putting our goal into perspective with electric vehicles already on the road, our projected 9000 MPGe is roughly 90 times the efficiency of current production battery electric vehicles (BEV) on the market today!

For more information, please visit our Facebook page and website

Meet the Researchers

Catrina Lesko

I am a senior Mechanical Engineering student at Michigan Tech and am a senior project engineer on the Supermileage Team, on the Engine sub-team. I have been on the team for 2 years and have even been the driver for our last SAE competition. Along with being on the Engine Team, I am the leader for our Sponsorship team.

Rick Berkey

I am a Professor of Practice in the Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology Dept. (MMET) and serve as the Enterprise Program Director, housed in the Pavlis Honors College (PHC). I advise the Supermileage Systems Enterprise, one of four teams under Michigan Tech Advanced Motorsports. I also teach two courses in Lean/Six Sigma methods as a certified Six Sigma Black Belt. Prior to Michigan Tech, I spent twelve years in industry in various roles including product development, materials, program management, operations, and Lean/Six Sigma/Quality. I've worked in the automotive, commercial vehicle, and consumer product sectors and have authored/co-authored ten patents in the area of automotive filtration products/systems.

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of $7,500 fund goal
The average donation for this project is $150
days left
Funding is Closed

What Your Donation Can Help Us Do: 

  • Help to achieve our high goal of competing in the 2016 Shell Eco-Marathon Competition.
  • More opportunities to test project effectiveness.
  • Purchase custom embedded circuitry for the motor controller.
  • Help us to develop and grow the enterprise.

$1 15 Funders

Thank you email-letter and receipt acknowledging tax-deductible status of your donation

$50 4 Funders

The above, plus your name listed on the Supermileage sponsor website

$100 14 Funders

All of the above, plus choice of either one Michigan Tech Advanced Motorsports T-shirt, or Supermileage Systems Enterprise polo

$250 1 Funder

All of the above, plus electronic copies of the Supermileage team's SAE design reports

$1,000 1 Funder

All of the above, plus your name/company logo on all Supermileage vehicles

Donate to the Supermileage enterprise to help us further vehicle efficiency technology. If you donate today you will receive email blast updates on our awesome vehicle and competition. Additionally, you will be mentioned in our reports as our success being made possible with your help!

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Gifts to projects listed on SUPERIORIDEAS.ORG are received and processed by Michigan Tech Fund. Michigan Tech Fund is a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code acting on behalf of Michigan Technological University. It is the policy of Michigan Tech Fund that a portion of the gifts and/or income therefrom may be used to defray the costs of raising and administering the funds.