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Sustainable Transportation Day Drives Innovation Forward

June 24, 2015 - 3:29pm

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On June 22, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) hosted Sustainable Transportation Day at the Energy Department’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. Together, the Bioenergy , Fuel Cell, and Vehicle Technologies Offices showcased how EERE’s strategic investments in sustainable transportation technologies are improving vehicle efficiency and advancing the use of alternative fuel vehicles. The event was kicked off by remarks from Deputy Assistant Secretary for Transportation Reuben Sarkar.

With transportation currently contributing one-third of greenhouse gas emissions and Americans still spending more than half a billion dollars per day on imported oil,  the President recently made a historic commitment to reduce the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions by 26% to 28% by 2025.

To make these aggressive emission reductions a reality, the Energy Department is pursuing an all-of-the-above energy strategy to invest in research, development, demonstration, and deployment of energy technologies across the board.

During Sustainable Transportation Day, visitors had the opportunity to see first-hand several of these EERE-supported technologies, ranging from high-efficiency internal combustion engines to vehicles that rely on electricity and hydrogen.

SuperTruck
While the original goal of the SuperTruck project was to improve the freight efficiency of a Class 8 tractor trailer by 50%, the trucks developed so far have greatly exceeded this goal.  At the event, visitors had the opportunity to see the Freightliner SuperTruck built by Daimler Trucks North America, which achieved a 115% increase over the baseline vehicle. The Vehicle Technologies Office hopes to continue progress in the coming year by launching SuperTruck II with the goal to improve freight hauling efficiency by 100% by 2020 with a focus on cost-effectiveness compared to a 2009 baseline.

3-D Printed Shelby Cobra
The 3-D printed Shelby Cobra car is a “plug and play” laboratory on wheels that can test batteries, fuel cells, and other advanced vehicle technologies. The “3-D printed car” was developed and printed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory with support from EERE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office in a mere six weeks. With the Big Area Additive Manufacturing machine, the 3-D printing process required less than half of the energy a conventional process would use to make these car parts. The advanced composite materials used in this car cut the vehicle’s weight in half while actually improving its safety.

Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles
The Hyundai Tucson and the Toyota Mirai fuel cell electric vehicles, made possible in part by the research, development, and deployment activities over the years of our Fuel Cell Technologies Office, were also on display. Currently available for lease and soon to be for sale in the United States, these fuel cell electric vehicles are fueled by hydrogen that can be produced by diverse sources, including natural gas or renewable energy. The Fuel Cells Technologies Office funding has helped cut the cost of fuel cells by 50% since 2006.

Green Racing Simulator
Visitors were able to “take a spin” on the Green Racing Simulator, which models a hybrid race car and gives racers a “green score” based on how much petroleum they save through clean, fast, and efficient driving. A partnership between the Energy Department, the Environmental Protection Agency, and SAE International, Green Racing uses motorsport competition to promote, develop, and test cleaner fuels and more efficient technologies. While based on popular racing games, the simulator integrates technologies, such as hybridization, and renewable fuels, such as cellulosic ethanol, to help the player have a true Green Racing experience.

Algae Surfboard
The Algae Surfboard—made from algal oil-based foam instead of polyurethane foam from fossil fuels—made its way from San Diego to Washington, D.C., for Sustainable Transportation Day. It was developed by researchers at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) California Center for Algae Biotechnology in collaboration with Solazyme, and was presented to San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer just this April. The algal oil used to make this sustainable surfboard was converted to polyols by UCSD chemists. It was then sent to the surfboard manufacturer Arctic Foam, which shaped the foam boards and coated them with fiberglass and a renewable plant-based resin.

With about 200 attendees, EERE’s inaugural Sustainable Transportation Day gave visitors the opportunity to see and touch exhibits displaying a number of cutting-edge technologies, all with the goal of reducing our dependence on foreign oil and decreasing our greenhouse gas emissions.

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