About PCRL

"The last obstacle to powered flight was the propulsion system. The term propulsion system is important. Wilbur and Orville recognized that developing an effective propeller, and efficient transmission linkage to the power plant, was just as crucial as building a suitable engine" Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

The Powertrain Control Research Laboratory was founded in 1989 as an independent research program within the Department of Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and has remained independent since its founding. The central focus of this laboratory is on fundamental and applied research in vehicular engine and powertrain systems. In order to pursue these goals and meet the educational needs of the students, PCRL is comprised of two distinct laboratories; DynoLab and SimLab. The research focus in each of these laboratories is on experimentation and analysis, respectively, and there is overlap and integration between the two. Please explore the various aspects of the Unversity of Wisconsin's powertrain program, and welcome to PCRL.

PCRL Mission statement:

The Powertrain Control Research Laboratory's mission is to conduct research and to train engineers in four principal areas;

The central goal of the laboratory is to be a quality source for engineering talent, powertrain system knowledge, and expertise for industry, government, and academia.

Research conducted in this laboratory is highly interdisciplinary in nature, bringing together the thermal sciences, controls, dynamic analysis, design, and system identification disciplines in a systems approach. This mission addresses a growing need in the automobile and transportation industry for engineers and scientists with training and experience in these multidisciplinary areas. Research results are published in technical journals in order to provide the industry with the most recent advances in powertrain technical information.

PCRL History:

The Powertrain Control Research Laboratory was founded in 1989 by Professor John J. Moskwa, Director of PCRL. Many years prior to this, Prof. Archie Easton had a strong research program in vehicular systems at UW-Madison and trained many excellent students, but this program had been phased out and there were no research programs in vehicular powertrain systems in the College. Because of the extensive integration of controls, electronics, diagnostics and powertrain energy conversion hardware in modern commercial products, and the intense interest in engine and powertrain systems by the industry, the PCRL powertrain systems program for research and training was initiated. The initiation of this independent research program provided a new dimension to the Mechanical Engineering Department's programs.

The current PCRL DynoLab is located in rooms B1143 and B1151 in the Mechanical Engineering Building, and this facility represents the state-of-the-art in high-bandwidth, transient engine and powertrain testing capability. This is a new expanded experimental laboratory facility, which was provided by the College of Engineering, designed by Professor Moskwa and the architectural team through the College, and occupied in August 2006. It is comprised of a central laboratory space for experiments and support work as well as other facilities. An electrical/electronics room is used for the fabrication of specialty control hardware, software, and instrumentation. Three individual test cells are each equiped with high-bandwidth transient test systems, as well as overhead gantry cranes and other equipment. A hydraulic power supply room supplies power to both the transient test systems in PCLR, as well as experiments in the Fluid Power Research Laboratory, and this facility has 440V power supply as well as an overhead gantry crane to easily move heavy equipment within these spaces. PCRL DynoLab also has easy access to the freight elevator and loading dock. When completed, the power supply room will be capable of providing up to 300hp for research experiments.

Prior to moving into this new location, PCRL DynoLab had resided in rooms 106 and 106A of the Mechanical Engineering Building for 17 years. That facility served this research group well in its formative years, and was the place where PCRL began its research in high-bandwidth transient test systems as well as other projects in multivariable control, diagnostics, and engine and powertrain system modeling in the 1980's. This previous location was formerly a cryogenic laboratory, and the availability of significant electrical power, exhaust systems, and overhead crane provided initial infrastructure for the program. Major renovations to start PCRL DynoLab included the design and construction of the control/electronics room 106A, electrical power and distribution, as well as relocated entrances for safety. Considerable facility upgrades occurred in DynoLab during 1992 with major HVAC renovations, new electrical distribution for computers and instrumentation, and laboratory furnishings. An instrumentation and research grant was provided to the lab in 1995 by Ford Motor Company, which allowed a major push forward in laboratory development. In 2000 PCRL extended its transient test system development to include single-cylinder research engines, and several patents on this technology are either pending or have been issued.

PCRL SimLab , a second new laboratory for powertrain system modeling and simulation, was established in 1994 to meet a growing need for this research. This laboratory has undergone a major new upgrade and is currently located in new facilities in the rennovated Mechanical Engineering Building (room B1180), in close proximity to PCRL DynoLab.

Professor Moskwa and PCRL have also had considerable involvement in the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) program. Professor Moskwa founded Wisconsin's HEV program and initiated "Team Paradigm" in 1991, and was faculty advisor for the project through the fall of 1993, including their first national competition in Dearborn, Michigan. This project and Team Paradigm are a student-led effort to design and build a hybrid electric vehicle, and compete with other universities throughout North America in a yearly event. Members of the original team paradigm have led the HEV project throughout three years of competition (1993-95), and in the fall of 1993 produced the first of many First-Place finishes in HEV competitions. Other faculty and staff have carried on the lead of this HEV effort, and it is one of several successful car project teams in the college. In PCRL Dynolab a small hydrostatic dynamometer was constructed by Team Paradigm members for testing and development of the small I.C. engine used in the original HEV. Several members of PCRL have also served as consultants to, and members of Team Paradigm throughout their years of competition.

In addition to the design, development, and construction of the HEV, the original team also contributed significant facilities development at the College of Engineering prior to the 1993 competitions. In 1991 team paradigm members designed and remodeled the central work bay in the former UW Motor Vehicle Laboratory (T-27), filling in a large mechanics pit, having the floor cemented over, and purchasing a large vehicle hoist that has been a very useful addition and is still used today. The team also purchased the large UW Racing Team trailer that has been used by all of the HEV, SAE Formula, SAE Baja, and FutureCar UW-Madison competition teams. This continues to be a very successful student team project, and in the Fall of 2002 Team Paradigm relocated into the New Centers Building as part of the overall engineering campus renovation.

PCRL Collaborations:

PCRL has had many successful collaborations, and details of the various research programs can be explored within the research heading. Members of PCRL have developed several spark ignition (gasoline) and compression ignition (diesel) dynamic engine models for the National Advanced Driving Simulator (NADS) as well as the Iowa Driving Simulator (IDS). These real time powertrain models are used to calculate the platform kinematics, and provide the user with a realistic physical driving experience for motion studies as well as driver-in-the-loop simulations.

PCRL SimLab members have maintained an important collaboration, and made fundamental contributions to the US Army's Automotive Research Center (ARC). PCRL has developed the engine and powertrain system dynamic models for the M916 Freightliner semi-tractor, the HMMWV (high mobility multi wheeled vehicle), the M1A1 Abrams main battle tank, and the M2A2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle, and delivered these models to the US Army Tank-Automotive Command to support their efforts. These modular powertrain system models, and the PowerSim programs are being used by other groups within the ARC as a central part of the advanced vehicle modeling research effort. PCRL's modular engine and powertrain models for the M916 comprises the overall simulation structure and most of the modules in the ArcSim software used at the University of Michigan, with U of M substituting their modules for the cylinder in the overall modular engine module and for the M870 chassis vehicle dynamics (developed at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute or UMTRI).

PCRL SimLab has also provided the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory with modular transmission models of the GM 4L80E automatic transmission used in the US Army's High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV). These models will be used in simulations to assess the performance of alternate powertrain configurations and powerplants. The University of Tennessee is a member of the US Army's Automotive Research Center (ARC).

PCRL has had collaborations with the University of Wisconsin's Engine Research Center. The ERC came to Professor Moskwa to request that his laboratory represent the University of Wisconsin-Madison in developing a number of dynamic engine and powertrain dynamic system models for the U.S. Army as part of the Army's Automotive Research Center because of PCRL's unique experience and background in this area which didn't exist in the ERC. Professor Moskwa wrote the proposal for this work (in consultation with Professors Borman and Meyers), made the proposal presentations to the U.S. Army's Automotive Research Center, and all of the models in this research were developed wholely in PCRL by graduate students advised by Professor Moskwa. These include full powertrain models of the M916 semi-tractor, the HMMWV, the M1A1 Abrams main battle tank, and the M2A2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle.

In Professor Moskwa's work in founding the HEV program and Team Paradigm at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1991, he developed a close relationship with Nicolet corporation of Madison, and Nicolet offered to loan the HEV program one of their FTIR emission analyzers. Because of the ERC's interest in emission measurement, Professor Moskwa invited a faculty member from the ERC to listen to the HEV team's presentation to Nicolet, and join in the discussions with them. This analyzer was donated to the HEV team, and was set up and used in the PCRL DynoLab as part of that project. ERC subsequently purchased this same analyzer for use in their research program.

During the 1990's Professor Moskwa shared PCRL's transient test system hardware designs with members of the ERC (Professor Pat Farrell and graduate student Mike Feist) which allowed them to build a hardware copy of one of PCRL's systems for low bandwidth operation without PCRL's hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) proprietary software. This request from Professor Farrell to copy the PCRL dynamometer design was made so that the ERC could start to perform some low bandwidth transient engine operations for sensor development research. During this period Mike Feist worked very closely with researchers in PCRL to copy this design, and the hardware used in this copy is identical to the PCRL system design (PCRL shared their design and hardware specifications with the ERC).

PCRL has also worked with Simcar.com to encourage technology transfer of powertrain system models and modeling techniques to industrial, academic, and governmental agencies. Currently, the EngineSim engine models from this collaboration have been purchased and are in use at locations worldwide. PCRL and Simcar.com have also collaborated with the Mathworks, Inc. in the development of powertrain simulation models.

Contact and Mailing Address Information:

Professor Emeritus John J. Moskwa
(Powertrain Consultation & Research LLC)
4142 Nakoma Road
Madison, WI 53711 USA
phone: (608) 238-9896
email: jjmoskwa@gmail.com

[ about | news | facilities | research | people | publications | sponsors | photos | links ]

Copyright © 1989-2016, Powertrain Control Research Laboratory. All rights reserved.
URL: http://powertrain.engr.wisc.edu