ERC Researchers Seek to Reduce Excessive Diesel Idling through Automated Start-Stop System

Achievement date: 

Researchers affiliated with the Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power (CCEFP), an NSF-funded Engineering Research Center (ERC) headquartered at the University of Minnesota, are exploring a start-stop system for increasing fuel efficiency and decreasing emissions of a diesel-powered school bus donated by Atlanta Public Schools. The primary target of this system is excessive idling.


When idling (e.g., at frequent stops to pick up and deliver children), diesel motors are inefficient and emit pollutants that are detrimental to children and the environment. By reducing excessive idling, the automated start-stop system will improve fuel efficiency, thereby assisting cash-strapped state budgets for fuel, and simultaneously diminish the emission of pollutants. This project builds on the research team’s existing hydraulic-hybrid school bus, which educates college and pre-college student about practical fluid-power applications.


This system is part of a larger effort that is realizing the potential of new fuel efficiencies for school buses everywhere while providing a model for effectively engaging college and pre-college students in hands-on learning about eco-friendly fluid power. The automated start-stop system is complementary to the hydraulic-hybrid school-bus retrofit and based on a hydraulic motor attached to the bus crankshaft (see figure). The research is in cooperation with Poclain Hydraulics, which has provided the team of undergraduate students with components and technical assistance.

Implementing the start-stop system (termed ‘CleanStart’) has required the installation of many components. The work has been carried out primarily by two undergraduate students over the course of two semesters. Following completion of the installation, the team will assess the system’s impact on the fuel economy and emissions of the bus. The system’s return on investment and commercial viability will also be analyzed. A significant portion of the necessary work has already been completed, with the remainder of the work and final installation, testing, and documentation scheduled for completion by the end of Spring 2014.