Advanced Power System Research Center

The Advanced Power System Research Center is a multidisciplinary collaborative that fosters research efforts in the development of clean, efficient, sustainable power-systems technologies. The center advances both the fundamental and applied knowledge required for the next generation of low-emission, high-efficiency power generation systems. Research conducted in the center spans internal combustion engines, hybrid powertrains, fuel cells, torque converters, solar- and wind-power generation, and alternative fuels (including ethanol, biodiesel, and hydrogen).

Open Circuit Wind Tunnel

AERB; Jeff Allen

Facility activities include wind-energy research, as well as aerodynamic and external flow testing. The tunnel has a 12-foot by 12-foot by 24-foot test section with air speeds exceeding 150 feet per second. The wind tunnel facility supports undergraduate research, graduate research, senior design, and Michigan Tech’s student chapter of the Society of Automotive Engineers.

Optically Accessible Constant Volume Combustion Vessel Laboratory

AERB; Jeff Naber and Seong-Young Lee

The optically accessible combustion vessel is a high-pressure, high-temperature facility capable of replicating engine in-cylinder conditions, enabling the study of fundamental combustion and spray behavior using various optical and laser diagnostics. The vessel is a highly configurable, 1.1-liter chamber with six window ports for optical sapphire windows, injector windows, spark plug/mixing fan windows and others; and eight access ports for valves and instruments. This facility’s pressure and temperature capabilities and optical access make it world class, pushing Michigan Tech to the forefront of spray and combustion research on diesel and gasoline spray, ignition, and emissions characteristics.

Five rooms comprise the lab suite, each one serving a distinct function: testing preparation; housing for the air compressor, combustion vessel, and gas cylinders; and controlling the vessel and lab operation.

Climate Controlled Lab for Power and Energy Research

AERB; Jeff Allen

The Climate Controlled Lab for Power and Energy Research (CCLPER) is a multipurpose environmental chamber primarily used for stack-level fuel cell testing. CCLPER research activities include freeze/thaw testing of fuel cell components in a hydrogen environment; freeze/thaw testing of small fuel cell stacks; and freeze/thaw testing and startup from frozen state of automotive fuel cell stacks.

Small Engines Research Laboratory

APSRC; Scott Miers

This lab is dedicated to the research and testing of small, internal combustion engines. Testing capabilities include emissions, efficiency, and performance, and available testing equipment includes high-speed, water-brake dynamometers, an FTIR emissions analysis system, and a Coriolis fuel-flow meter. A custom dynamometer control and data acquisition system ensures high-quality data and a safe operating environment.

In-Use ATV and Snowmobile Research Laboratory

APSRC; Scott Miers

Lab activities focus on the in-use operation of recreational vehicles, such as ATVs and snowmobiles, including research on driveline efficiency, exhaust emissions, and fuel efficiency of these vehicles in a real-world environment. A SEMTECH-DS portable emissions analyzer, which is towed behind the test vehicle in a custom sleigh, records vehicle emissions over a wide range of operation.

Cold Test Laboratory

APSRC; Scott Miers

Lab activities include automotive and recreational vehicle cold-start testing. The facility, a refrigerated trailer equipped with office space and analysis hardware, is capable of maintaining test conditions from 20 degrees Fahrenheit to -20 degrees Fahrenheit. Fast-response emissions measurement equipment is available in this lab.

Engine Research Facilities

APSRC; Jeff Naber and Jeremy Worm

The Advanced Power Systems Research Center (APSRC) facilities provide investigators at Michigan Tech with the tools necessary to succeed in large- and small-scale engine research projects, both fundamental and applied in nature.

The APSRC operates eleven internal combustion engine test beds, with dynamometers ranging from 5 to 745 kilowatts, for powertrain research, as well as additional test beds for educational purposes. The facilities offer a wide range of testing capabilities, including the ability for both motoring and absorbing operation and dynamic conditions. Flexible fuel systems accommodate the study of both gaseous fuels and liquid fuels (alcohol blends, biodiesel, and green fuels). Conditioned combustion air supply systems capable of temperature, pressure, and humidity control are being integrated into several of the test cells, which are equipped with sophisticated powertrain instrumentation:

* AVL and ACAP equipment, for real-time combustion analysis
* Five gas analyzers, AVL FTIR, a mass spectrometer, Cambustion fast CO/CO2, Cambustion fast HC, PM mass and particle size, all for measuring emissions
* Embedded control with rapid-prototyping capabilities, and calibration with ETAS
* Coriolis and positive displacement meters and Laminar Flow Elements, for fuel and air measurement
* High-speed, high-channel-count DAQ, to accommodate various needs such as noise, vibration, and harshness testing

The center offers a suite of additional, highly specialized pieces of equipment for engine testing, including infrared and microwave telemetry systems, vehicle and component-scale environmental chambers for engine cold-start tests, and vehicle chassis dynamometers.

Hybrid Electric Vehicle Mobile Laboratory

APSRC; Jeremy Worm

The Hybrid Electric Vehicle Mobile Laboratory was funded through a US Department of Energy grant to develop a curriculum in hybrid electric vehicle engineering. The lab, which travels the country, was commissioned for education, outreach, and research in sustainable transportation and energy surety. The facility offers a classroom, multifunctional experimental benches, two complete powertrain test cells, three production hybrid vehicles, a configurable hybrid vehicle, and a vehicle chassis dynamometer. The lab also functions as a controllable microgrid with multiple alternative power sources.

The Mobile Lab facilities provide a hands-on approach to learning difficult technical concepts, supporting several curriculum-based courses in hybrid vehicles and powertrain engineering that are offered both on and off the Michigan Tech campus. The Mobile Lab also supports short courses, which are designed to meet a client’s specific educational requirements, and can be co-taught on-site with the client’s own trainers.

Additionally, the Mobile Lab provides an ideal venue for outreach to pre-college youth and the general public. The facility can be set up for short-duration, high-impact, hands-on educational activities at a wide variety of locations and events, including K-12 schools, trade shows, conferences, and energy fairs.

Powertrain Research Laboratory

APSRC; Jason Blough

The Powertrain Research Laboratory features two 300-horsepower dynamometers for testing automotive torque converters and transmissions. The facility offers full LabVIEW automation of all tests, which includes dynamometer controls and hydraulic-system controls. A full suite of state-of-the-art, data-acquisition hardware systems, including a microwave telemetry system, is available to lab users. Studies performed in the lab include cavitation studies and dimensional-analysis correlation, turbine-noise studies, and pump, turbine, and stator pressure-map testing. Any element of a torque converter can be instrumented and tested under nearly any test condition. The absorbing dynamometer will soon be upgraded to a 465-horsepower AC dynamometer to extend the facility’s capabilities further.


The Alternative Energy Research Building is located in Hancock (formerly the Lahti Building).

The Advanced Power Systems Research Center is located near the Keweenaw Research Center (on the road to the airport).