Energy Institute students benefit from Caterpillar engine donation

caterpillar engine

This July, Caterpillar Inc. donated a large Cat® CG137-8 gas petroleum engine used in oil and gas technology for new research projects and testing at the Colorado State University Energy Institute.

This donation marks a continuation of a growing relationship between Colorado State University Energy Institute and Caterpillar Inc.

“For the past few years, we have been working together to innovate industrial gas engine technology,” explained Daniel Olsen, professor in mechanical engineering.

The industry-research relationship began two years ago when Caterpillar Inc. loaned a Cat® G3304 Industrial Gas Engine to the Energy Institute. The engine, which is set up at the Institute’s headquarters in the Powerhouse Energy Campus, was first used as part of the mechanical engineering department’s senior design practicum. In this capstone class, students gain real-world engineering design experience by participating in major intercollegiate project competitions and working in teams that simulate the technological environments of small, medium, and large companies. The senior design team working on the Cat® G3304 Industrial Gas Engine worked to demonstrate that the engine could run while operating with a dedicated exhaust gas recirculation (D-EGR) system. This system is used on engines because it can reduce emissions of NOx and make the engine more efficient by reducing knock.

Next, CSU doctoral student Chris Van Rockel picked up the project and is working with the engine to understand the fundamental effects of a D-EGR system on the combustion products of a rich-burn natural gas engine (an engine that uses just enough air to combust). This is exciting because there has not been work published on this topic for natural gas engines.

“It really is exciting when a senior design project transitions to a research project, like the one Chris is working on,” explained Olsen.

Caterpillar Inc. is doing more than donating engines; the company is actively participating in educating the next generation of mechanical engineers with engine expertise. Dave Montgomery, dual-fuel subject matter expert at Caterpillar Inc., will be teaching a class on industrial gas and dual-fuel engines this fall, and Ramin Younessi, the group president of Caterpillar Inc. with responsibility for the Energy and Transportation segment, will be giving a seminar at the CSU Powerhouse Energy Campus this August.