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DOE Announces up to $29.3 Million in Projects for Research, Development, and Demonstration of Alternative Vehicle Technologies

December 3, 2008 - 4:58pm

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WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced the selection of six cost-shared research projects for the development and demonstration of alternative vehicle technology projects totaling a DOE investment of up to $14.55 million over three years, subject to annual appropriations. Private sector contributions will further increase the financial investment for a total of up to $29.3 million. The selections announced today are part of DOE's continuing work to develop high efficiency vehicle technologies and are not part of the recently announced $25 billion Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program. Today's announcement supports the development of next generation technologies for new alternative vehicles. The projects selected today directly support DOE's goal to protect our national and economic security by promoting a diverse supply and delivery of reliable, affordable and environmentally sound alternative energy.

"These selections continue to advance the Administration's bold policy of researching and identifying clean, innovative, alternative vehicles to reduce our dependence on petroleum and cut greenhouse gas emissions," DOE Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency David Rodgers said. "Investments in these diverse clean vehicle technologies represent our commitment to deliver a diverse portfolio of alternative options for American drivers."

These projects were selected under three diverse topic areas: lithium-ion battery materials and manufacturing; thermoelectric heating, ventilation, and air conditioning; and aerodynamic heavy-duty truck trailers:

Battery Materials and Manufacturing:
Three selected projects totaling up to $13.9 million in cost-shared cooperative agreements, DOE share of up to $6.85 million, subject to annual appropriations. The projects will focus on improving battery material performance and developing manufacturing processes to increase performance and decrease cost of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) batteries. PHEVs are hybrid vehicles that can be driven in electric-only mode and recharged from a standard electric outlet. They provide fuel diversity and decreased petroleum consumption. The acceleration of Li-ion battery development is a key step in the successful commercialization of PHEVs capable of traveling up to 40 miles without recharging.

  • 3M Company (St Paul, Minn) has been selected for negotiation of an award for a three-year, up to $2.7 million, DOE share of up to $1.35 million, project aimed at developing advanced negative electrode materials for PHEV Li-ion batteries. The novel anode alloy material will result in higher battery capacity while maintaining good charge/discharge performance.
  • BASF Catalyst LLC (Iselin, N.J. and Elyria, Ohio) has been selected for negotiation of an award for a 30-month, up to $5.0 million, DOE share of up to $2.5 million, project to develop an industrial process for domestic production of low cost Li-ion battery cathode materials. BASF will use low cost precursors and known industrial methods to reduce the cost of Li-ion battery materials. They will partner with Farasis Energy, Inc. of Hayward, Calif., a company experienced in Li-ion battery development.
  • FMC Corporation (Charlotte, N.C.) has been selected for negotiation of a three-year, up to $6.2 million, DOE share of up to $3.0 million, award for scaling up production of stabilized lithium metal powder for high energy Li-ion battery cathodes. These powders can be used to produce battery cells with reduced losses during the initial cell charging.

Thermoelectric Systems:
Two projects totaling up to $13 million in cost-shared cooperative agreements, DOE share of up to $6.5 million, subject to annual appropriations. These projects were selected to accelerate the development of thermoelectric (TE) systems that provides the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) in vehicles. The use of solid state TE devices to heat and cool a vehicle's passenger compartment can increase vehicle efficiency by reducing engine load - by reducing or eliminating the need for conventional air conditioning refrigerants, these vehicles further reduce greenhouse gas emissions. TE HVAC enables the use of distributed cooling/heating units that cool/heat the occupants rather than the whole cabin and its components. While applicable to all commercial and passenger vehicles, TE HVAC is particularly attractive for hybrids and plug-in hybrids where an electrically driven air conditioning system can maintain occupant comfort even when the engine turns off.

  • Ford Motor Company (Dearborn, Mich.) has been selected for negotiation of an award for a 36-month, up to $8.4 million, DOE share of up to $4.2 million, project to accelerate the deployment of light-duty automotive thermoelectric HVAC technology. This work will focus on the development of a zonal TE HVAC system, while reducing energy consumption of existing HVAC systems by one third. Partners include Visteon, BSST, DOE's National Energy Renewable Laboratory, and Ohio State University.
  • General Motors Corporation (Warren, Mich.) has been selected for negotiation of an award for a 36-month, up to $4.6 million, DOE share of up to $2.3 million, project to develop a system that provides thermal comfort equivalent to current HVAC systems while using significantly less energy. The team will design, test, and evaluate the thermoelectric system components and then integrate the components into a demonstration vehicle for testing and evaluation. Partners include Delphi Thermal Systems, University of California at Berkeley, and University of Nevada at Las Vegas.

Aerodynamic Trailers:
One project, with a total value of up to $2 million, DOE share of up to $1 million, was selected to accelerate the development, evaluation, and deployment of advanced aerodynamic trailers that can significantly reduce fuel consumption of heavy-duty tractor trailers.

  • Navistar International Corporation, (Fort Wayne, Ind.) has been selected for a 30-month project that will design, demonstrate, and bring to market a tractor trailer combination and tire package that can reduce the fuel consumption of a heavy vehicle by at least 15 percent. Following development, a commercial fleet will evaluate the benefits of the new technology package through real-world use. After the term of the project, the team members will make this fuel-efficient technology package available for sale. Team members include Frito Lay, Kentucky Trailer, Freight Wing, Michelin, and DOE's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

For more information on the Department of Energy's work to advance vehicle technologies, visit the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program.

Media contact(s):

Jennifer Scoggins, (202) 586-4940

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