DOE announces up to $184M for advance vehicle research and development

Lest you think the government is cutting back on spending, U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced today the Department of Energy (DOE) is accepting applications for up to $184 million over three to five years to accelerate the development and deployment of new efficient vehicle technologies.
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According to the latest DOE Progress Alert at their website, the intent is to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, save drivers money, and limit carbon pollution. Projects will span the broad spectrum of technology approaches, including advanced materials, combustion research, hybrid electric systems, fleet efficiency, and fuels technology.

Although the first of a new generation of electric drive vehicles is now entering the market, like the Chevy Volt and the Nissan leaf, advancements in batteries, power electronics, and lightweight materials are required to be fully competitive, including on a cost comparison basis. In addition, The DOE wants American industry to build extremely efficient vehicles by utilizing improved combustion technologies, fuels, and waste heat recovery, which offer significant near-term improvements to conventional vehicles.

It is interesting to note that nowhere on the DOE site does it mention some of the technologies already under development, especially those already mentioned on the TorqueNews website. Technologies include the Scuderi split cycle air hybrid, the Tour split cycle, the Cyclone external combustion steam engine, just to name a few.

Nonetheless, the Department is still going through their motions, seeking applications from industry, laboratory, and university teams as if they do not know those present technologies specifically exist. The DOE believes it needs to fill gaps in the existing program through the development of enabling technologies that will remove barriers and create new paradigms in vehicle design. It even has a custom website http://www1.eere.energy.gov/vehiclesandfuels/ for the public to track .

Furthermore, the Funding Organization will be the Vehicle Technologies Program, and the Funding Number is DE-FOA-0000239, per http://www1.eere.energy.gov/vehiclesandfuels/financial/solicitations_detail.asp?sol_id=369

The Announcement released December 16th for the Funding Opportunity reveals it focuses on eight approaches to improving vehicle efficiency:

  1. Advanced fuels and lubricants
  2. Light weighting materials
  3. Multi-material light weight material prototype
  4. Advanced cells and design technology for electric drive batteries
  5. Advanced power electronics and electric motor technology
  6. Thermoelectric and enabling engine technology
  7. Fleet efficiency
  8. Advanced vehicle testing and evaluation

Applications for the solicitation must be submitted through Grants.gov to be considered for awards. The due date is February 28, 2011. The Department of Energy also expects to announce the selections by summer 2011.


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