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DOE seeking comment on draft $50M solicitation for new projects over 11 areas of interest to improve vehicle performance and decrease fuel consumption

2 February 2013

The US Department of Energy (DOE) Vehicle Technology Program is seeking public comment on the draft of an upcoming solicitation (DE-FOA-0000793) totaling more than $50 million for new research projects that will develop advanced technologies to improve vehicle performance and increase fuel economy. As part of the Advanced Vehicle Power Technology Alliance between DOE and the Department of the Army, the Army plans to contribute $3.5 million in co-funding for several areas where there are joint development opportunities. The FOA supports the President’s EV Everywhere Grand Challenge. (Earlier post.)

DOE will release the final version after a period of public comment and revision. The FOA contains a total of 11 areas of interest (AOIs) in the general areas of advanced lightweighting and propulsion materials; advanced battery development; power electronics; advanced heating, ventilation, air conditioning systems; and fuels and lubricants. Specific AOIs are:

  1. Developing the Scientific Foundation for Advanced Automotive Cast Magnesium Alloys – Kinetics
  2. Developing the Scientific Foundation for Advanced Automotive Cast Magnesium Alloys – Corrosion Behavior
  3. Body-in-white Joining of Aluminum to Advanced High Strength Steel at Prototype Scale
  4. Breakthrough Techniques for Dissimilar Material Joining
  5. Development of High-Performance Cast Alloys and Processing Techniques for Engine Rotating Components
  6. High Temperature DC Bus Capacitor Cost Reduction & Performance Improvements
  7. Applied Battery Research for Improvements in Cell Chemistry, Composition, and Processing
  8. Computer Aided Engineering for Electric Drive Batteries
  9. Advanced Electrolytes for Next-Generation Lithium Ion Chemistries
  10. Lubricant Formulations to Enhance Fuel Efficiency
  11. Advanced Climate Control Auxiliary Load Reduction

When the final funding opportunity announcement is released following this public comment period, DOE will accept applications from industry, national laboratories, and university-led teams to address these challenges and enable technologies that drive innovation in vehicle design.

AOI 1: Developing the Scientific Foundation for Advanced Automotive Cast Magnesium Alloys - Kinetics. The objective of this AOI is to develop an improved understanding of the kinetics and diffusion behavior in advanced automotive cast magnesium alloys. While high performance cast magnesium alloys with improved strength and corrosion resistance are desirable for automotive applications, a major technical gap exists in the scientific foundation for developing such materials. By supporting improved scientific comprehension in the area of kinetics and diffusion behavior, this AOI will help to identify the development paths towards novel magnesium alloys and greater impact on weight reduction in the US fleet.

While the thermodynamic characteristics and equilibrium phase diagrams for magnesium and its alloys are reasonably well understood, the phase transformation and diffusion behavior of these alloys has been explored to a far lesser extent. Kinetics far from equilibrium is of particular relevance to the development of high performance cast magnesium alloys for automotive applications owing to the severity of fluid flow, the high cooling rates, and the steep thermal gradients in the die-casting process.

Applicants proposing kinetics research shall describe a plan for measuring and characterizing, modeling, and/or simulating the kinetic properties of magnesium alloys in conditions similar to those found during die-casting and solidification and during subsequent heat treatment. Applications should emphasize the behavior in automotive relevant magnesium alloy systems, such as those containing aluminum, zinc, or manganese, however other magnesium alloy systems can be included. Applicants must articulate how output from this research will be made broadly available to the scientific and engineering community, and how the results can be used to support future development of high performance automotive die-casting alloys.

AOI 2: Developing the Scientific Foundation for Advanced Automotive Cast Magnesium Alloys – Corrosion Behavior. The objective of this AOI is to develop an improved understanding of the corrosion behavior in advanced automotive cast magnesium alloys.By supporting improved scientific comprehension in the area of corrosion behavior, this AOI will help to identify the development paths towards novel magnesium alloys and greater impact on weight reduction in the US fleet.

Magnesium is among the lightest structural metals and can therefore enable significant vehicle weight reduction when compared to conventional materials. Magnesium is also among the most thermodynamically active metals and the current alloy systems do not form effective passive surface films which results in poor corrosion performance.

Applicants proposing corrosion research shall describe a plan for measuring and characterizing, modeling, and/or simulating the general and/or galvanic corrosion behavior in magnesium alloy systems relevant to use in automotive components. While the basic corrosion mechanisms in magnesium are known, there are significant gaps in the scientific understanding of the roles of alloying elements and microstructure in film formation and degradation, anodic dissolution, and cathodic reactions. Further, alloying or coating pathways towards low-cost, effective passive films, have not been sufficiently explored in a sound and scientific way.

AOI 3: Body-in-white Joining of Aluminum to Advanced High Strength Steel at Prototype Scale. The objective of this AOI is to develop and demonstrate the capability of multi-material joining techniques for aluminum to advanced steel for light-duty vehicle body-in-white (BIW) joints. In addition to applying and validating new techniques at a production-relevant scale, this AOI supports rigorous development of joining process-structure models and characterization of joints at a quality suitable for publication in peer-reviewed journals.

Applications within this AOI will apply multi-material joining techniques that have been demonstrated at coupon-scale or for non-body-in-white applications. The techniques should have been well characterized and understood in prior work with the technical challenges associated with body-in-white joining clearly explained in the application.

For the purpose of this AOI, “aluminum” is defined as 5000, 6000, or 7000 series automotive aluminum alloy sheet between 0.5 mm and 5 mm thick. “Advanced Steel” is defined as automotive sheet steel with tensile strength of greater than 580 MPa and thickness between 0.5 mm and 5 mm. “Body-in white joints” refers to joints between the materials described above in the body-in-white where constraining the assembly and access to the joint are limited by size of the assembly; these limits are manifest in such a way that the joining process must be performed on a robot-arm, or in such a way that the joining process can be performed on a full size BIW moving through the assembly floor (i.e. the BIW cannot be lifted or rotated significantly to accommodate the needs of the joining process).

Applications under this AOI must address three aspects: process development and demonstration; joint characterization; and model development and validation.

AOI 4: Breakthrough Techniques for Dissimilar Material Joining. This area of interest is co-funded by the US Department of Energy and the US Army. The objective of this AOI is to establish new techniques for producing dissimilar material joints in vehicle structures. Joining dissimilar materials is a critical technical barrier to weight reduction of both civilian and military vehicles however breakthrough ideas for methods to produce these joints are lacking.

Development of more established techniques such as conventional fusion welding, riveting, friction joining and ultrasonic joining is underway and not supported by this AOI; this AOI seeks to support early stage development and demonstration of completely new techniques.

The mechanical and corrosion performance of the joints produced using the new technique will be characterized. Further, joint characteristics and failure modes will be characterized and reported.

Applications within this AOI will apply novel dissimilar material joining techniques to produce joined coupons of any two of the following materials:

  • Aluminum (5000 or 6000 series automotive alloy)

  • Steel (Mild, HSLA, AHSS, or Boron automotive alloy)

  • Magnesium (AZ or AM series commercial alloy)

  • Carbon Fiber Polymer Composite

The mechanical and corrosion performance of the joints produced using the new technique will be characterized. Further, joint characteristics and failure modes will be characterized and reported.

Applicants shall propose a joining method that is significantly different from the conventional implementations of the following techniques: Friction stir welding; Ultrasonic welding; Arc Welding, and other conventional fusion techniques; Laser Welding; Plasma Welding; Explosive welding/bonding using chemical explosives; Conventional Brazing or Soldering; Rivets, bolts, and other conventional mechanical fasteners; Conventional adhesive joining; and Other conventional or well established joining techniques.

AOI 5: Development of High-Performance Cast Alloys and Processing Techniques for Engine Rotating Components. The objective of this AOI is to develop technologies that will enable the production of cast crankshafts that meet or exceed the performance of current state-of-the-art high performance forged crankshafts (tensile strength, Yield 615 MPa) with cost targets no more than 110% of production cast units. Modifications to processing techniques may be included, but shall not include forging and should result in a finished product that meets all performance and cost targets.

Applications must include an existing baseline production assembly; specific targets for assembly mass; technical approach to meet targets; and a technology transfer /commercialization plan. Applications must include a Tier 1 or automotive OEM as a partner for prototype design, demonstration, and validation.

A current baseline shall be established, including the assembly mass, material composition, material properties, and cost. Applications must include a discussion of how each technical barrier will be addressed in the project. A prototype demonstration part shall be produced which reproduces, to the maximum extent practicable, the expected stresses, clearance, dimensional stability, and fatigue challenges of next generation high efficiency internal combustion engine rotating components. The prototype part should also capture expected performance challenges such as interaction of bearings, journals, oil passages, and life cycle fatigue requirements.

AOI 6: High Temperature DC Bus Capacitor Cost Reduction & Performance Improvements. The development of less-expensive, more-efficient, smaller, and lighter power electronics and electric machines for electric traction systems is necessary to reduce the cost and improve the performance of electric drive vehicles. The specifications for the DC bus capacitor, including electrical performance and mechanical and thermal requirements must be based on an automotive power inverter application. In this AOI, solutions should be capable of being commercially manufactured.

Capacitors typically represent the second largest cost component of an inverter, and they also account for a major portion of inverter volume and weight. Currently, polymer-film wound capacitors are commonly used in inverters for electric traction drive systems, but they cannot tolerate sufficiently high temperatures for future applications that will require operation in ambient temperatures up to 140°C. Furthermore, the lack of high temperature tolerance and low energy density are barriers to meeting 2020 PEEM targets for inverter power density and cost.

The focus of this AOI is to lower the cost and improve the performance of high-temperature-capable DC bus capacitors that will be part of the next generation of power inverters for electric drive vehicles. These capacitors must meet demanding performance targets while achieving significant reductions in cost to meet future commercial demands. The major technical barriers to closing the gaps between the current status and the targets are the high cost of the materials and components, the weight and volume of the components, and the ability of the materials and components to withstand the temperatures that they will encounter. These specifications and performance targets also affect the power electronics components such as semiconductor switches, diodes, and packaging. Following are the capacitor target specifications:

DC Bus Capacitor Targets
Peak transient voltage for 50 ms, VDC≥650
Temperature range of ambient air, °C -40 to +140
Volume requirement, L ≤0.6
Cost ≤$30
Failure mode benign
Life @operating conditions (<10% rated capacitance fade), hr >13,000

AOI 7: Applied Battery Research for Improvements in Cell Chemistry, Composition, and Processing. The objective of this AOI is to attract and fund research efforts to understand and overcome the barriers impeding the successful utilization of commercial or near commercial high energy Li-ion couples that can meet the performance, lifetime and cost requirements of PHEV40 or EV batteries.

The Applied Battery Research (ABR) program is being conducted in support of the US Drive Partnership, which is targeting more fuel-efficient light duty vehicles that can reduce US dependence on petroleum without sacrificing performance. There is an emphasis on developing and improving energy storage technologies, as they are one of the most critical components needed to enable the wide-spread commercialization of electric drive vehicles.

The ABR program is focused on cell chemistries (and all cell components that can impact performance and life, including electrolyte, binder, conductive additive, separator, etc.) for high-energy batteries for use in PHEV40 (PHEVs with a 40 mile all electric range) and EV light-duty vehicles.

Critical barriers exist for the implementation of lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries in electric drive vehicle applications. The focus of this AOI is to overcome these barriers—to meet or exceed the PHEV40 and EV battery cell performance metrics. The critical performance metrics for Li- ion batteries in EDVs are:

Energy Storage Requirements
Characteristics units PHEV40 EV
Specific Discharge Pulse Power kW/kg 800 800
Discharge Pulse Power Density kW/l 1600 1200
Specific Regen Pulse Power kW/kg 430 400
Regen Pulse Power Density kW/l 860 600
Recharge Rate kW 1.4 1.4
Specific Energy Wh/kg 200 400
Energy Density Wh/l 400 600
Calendar Life years 10 10
Cycle Life cycles 5,000 1,000
Operating Temperature Range °C -30 to +52 -30 to +65

One of the characteristics of the ABR program is the full design of experiment approach to identifying, diagnosing, and addressing issues with high-energy Lithium ion cells. Applications are to identify an iterative, multi-mode applied R&D process that moves from materials and advanced chemistry “inputs” through design, fabrication, performance testing, and diagnostics. Successful outcomes will lead to new and improved “inputs” to the ABR program, and will collectively provide a forum to directly address specific materials and engineering barriers to the commercialization of EDV electrochemical energy storage systems.

AOI 8: Computer Aided Engineering for Electric Drive Batteries. The objective of this AOI is to expand upon the current state of electric drive vehicular battery modeling using the Computer Aided Engineering for Electric Drive Batteries (CAEBat) open architecture. (Earlier post.) The CAEBat activity was initiated by the Vehicle Technologies Program (VTP) and its objective was to introduce battery simulation and modeling design tools to the development of batteries early in the product life-cycle thereby reducing development time and accelerating time-to-market.

Initial efforts focused on the development of multi-physics simulation models capturing realistic three-dimensional geometries and configurations of cell and pack level batteries or other electrochemical storage devices that could meet the requirements of electric drive vehicles. These models addressed the chemical, electrical, and thermal physics in the electrochemical cells, modules, and battery packs while trying to optimize computational efficiency.

In a parallel effort, the open architecture platform was developed to serve as a backbone that seamlessly allowed these different models to communicate with each other through a common language and agreed upon input and output standards.

Combining this open architecture software with the electrochemical and thermal models, the CAEBAT program has begun to develop a suite of software tools that enable automobile and battery manufacturers, pack integrators, and other end-users to simulate and design battery packs, accelerating development of battery systems, ultimately reducing battery cost.

This AOI will expand upon the current state of electric drive vehicular battery modeling by developing and validating new advanced computational models. The models must use the CAEBAT open architecture platform and be compatible with the existing software tools. Specific areas of interest include but are not limited to:

  • Significantly improving the computation efficiency of current electrochemical and thermally coupled material, cell, module and battery pack models.

  • Developing models capable of predicting the combined structural, electrical, and thermal responses to abusive conditions such as crash-induced-crush, overcharge/over-discharge, thermal ramp, and short circuits.

  • Improving the accuracy of advanced life prediction modeling over different drive cycles and temperature conditions.

AOI 9: Advanced Electrolytes for Next-Generation Li-Ion Chemistries. One of the technologies that is impeding the commercialization of next-generation Li ion couples is advanced electrolytes that will enable the use of alloy anodes and or high voltage/high capacity cathodes.

The purpose of this AOI is to develop electrolytes that will significantly improve the performance, abuse, and cost capabilities of next generation lithium ion cells. These electrolytes will be for electric drive vehicle batteries, such as PHEV40s and EVs.

Applications of particular interest but not limited to, are non-carbonate based electrolytes that can enable the commercialization of high-energy next generation lithium ion technologies. Examples of next-gen technologies include silicon, tin or other high-energy alloy anodes (but does NOT include Li metal anodes), and high voltage and high capacity cathodes, such as the 5 Volt Ni/Mn spinel or the Li-rich layered/layered cathodes.

Carbonate-based electrolytes that show significant improvements over current materials with these electrolytes will also be considered.

One of the issues with current, carbonate based, electrolytes used with alloy anodes is the apparent instability of the solid electrolyte interface (SEI). Thus, non-carbonate electrolytes that demonstrably address this issue are of particular interest.

Another and as equally important issue with current carbonate-based, electrolytes used with high voltage cathodes is the high voltage instability that leads to electrolyte breakdown and either rapid capacity or power fade. Thus, non-carbonate electrolytes that demonstrably address this issue are of particular interest.

Electrolytes developed through these contracts will be demonstrated in high-energy cells. The developer should plan to build and deliver high energy lab-scale cells, in the 10 to 250 mAh capacity range, that demonstrate the advantages of the new electrolyte. As mentioned above, the cell should ideally utilize either a high-energy alloy anode (which could be coupled against a more traditional cathode, such as NMC) or an advanced high voltage and high capacity cathode (which could be coupled against a more traditional anode, such as graphite).

The proposed electrolyte technology should provide a significant improvement over currently known electrolytes for lithium-ion batteries in one or more of the following areas: (1) high-voltage stability, (2) cycle life of alloy anodes, (3) low-temperature performance and/or high temperature life, (4) abuse tolerance, (5) and cost.

AOI 10: Lubricant Formulations to Enhance Fuel Efficiency. The objective of this AOI is to develop novel lubricant formulations that are expected to improve the fuel efficiency of light-, medium-,heavy-duty, and/or military vehicles by at least 2% (improvement based on comparative results from chassis dynamometer testing or test track, e.g., SAE J1321) without adverse impacts on vehicle performance or durability.

Applications must also specifically address the following:

  • The formulations must be for a lubricant application that can be easily replaced in the legacy fleet. Engine lubricants, manual transmission lubricants, and axle/gear lubricants are acceptable applications.

  • The comparison lubricant used as a baseline for demonstration/justification of the 2% fuel efficiency improvement should be commercially available, state-of-the-art technology for the intended application, e.g., GF-5 oil for gasoline engine applications or CJ-4 oil for diesel engine applications. Axle and transmission lubricants should also employ current, best-available technology as a baseline for demonstrating/justifying the proposed technology results in a 2% fuel efficiency improvement.

  • The comparison hardware used as a baseline for demonstration/justification of the 2% fuel efficiency improvement calculations/demonstrations should be a product widely available in the field and available for sale within the past five years, i.e., no obsolete engines, transmissions, or axles.

  • Friction reduction analysis should include expected improvements to fuel economy with a breakdown for boundary, mixed and hydrodynamic friction.

  • The proposed formulation(s) should use currently available technology, or have the potential to become commercially practical within the next 10 years.

  • An analysis supporting assumptions associated with commercial practicality shall be addressed in the application.

  • Project demonstrations should be limited to demonstrations of the technology researched and/or developed during the project.

AOI 11: Advanced Climate Control Auxiliary Load Reduction. The objective of projects proposed under this AOI shall be to develop and demonstrate strategies that employ advanced technologies to significantly reduce the auxiliary loads that support passenger comfort and window defrost/defog for grid connected electric drive vehicles (GCEDVs).

The research, development, and demonstration shall employ strategies for load reduction & management, improved or innovative heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment, and/or more efficient cabin preconditioning. The focus of the projects shall be on developing solutions for application in light duty GCEDVs, with the potential for these technologies to also be used in hybrid electric and conventional light-duty vehicles as well as medium- and heavy-duty vehicles.

The technical strategies include thermal load reduction, advanced HVAC, and cabin preconditioning are focused on using less energy from the energy storage system (ESS) when the vehicle is in operation. This will allow for longer range or less range loss under certain environmental conditions. Applications submitted under this AOI shall address, at least one or more of the following specific technical strategies:

  • Energy Load Reduction and Energy Management strategies shall focus on minimizing auxiliary loads by reducing the thermal loads that the systems must address. The approaches considered may include optimizing and controlling heat transfer between the vehicle passenger cabin and the environment, and minimizing or managing the thermal loads that the HVAC systems must address to ensure passenger comfort. High priority investigations may include advanced windows and glazing, surface paints, thermal mass reduction and/or management, ventilation, seating, and advanced insulation.

  • Advanced HVAC Technologies shall focus on reducing the auxiliary loads impact on vehicle driving range. Development activities may include development of HVAC equipment with improved efficiencies and performance characteristics, such as advanced heat pumps or novel heating and/or cooling subsystems. Development activities may also include introduction of innovative or unique heating and cooling concepts to achieve passenger comfort such as infrared and thermo-electric devices and phase change materials.

  • Cabin Preconditioning strategies shall address improving the energy efficiency of thermally preconditioning the passenger cabin while the vehicle is connected to the grid. The end result of these strategies will be to reduce the amount of energy supplied by the ESS upon initial vehicle operation to either pull-down (hot conditions) or raise (cold conditions) the temperature in the cabin when the vehicle begins to operate after being connected to the grid. This is achieved by bringing the temperature inside the cabin closer to the operator’s desired comfort level temperature while the vehicle is still connected to the grid in a manner that minimizes the use of grid energy. One potential approach to cabin preconditioning might be the utilization of waste heat generated within the battery and/or charging circuit during charging. This FOA will not address or consider reducing the amount of electricity from the grid used for ESS thermal management during charging unless this reduction resulted in a preconditioned cabin that lowered the auxiliary energy loads for cabin comfort when the vehicle was being operated.

Necessary attributes of the proposed strategies and technologies include potential for commercial viability, acceptance by consumers, minimal environmental impact, and compatibility with existing infrastructure and vehicle subsystems. Characteristics of commercially viable solutions include low cost, high efficiency, and high volume production of components.

February 2, 2013 in Batteries, Electric (Battery), Fuels, Lubricating Oils, Manufacturing, Motors, Plug-ins, Power Electronics, Research, Vehicle Systems, Weight reduction | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

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Try to support researchers and companies who actually want to commercialize the end product. Many things funded by DOE go to companies who are worried that advances in certain tech might kill some of their current markets. The money should go to those entities who are not worried about losing some other market.

Eliminate oil subsidies then give that to synthetic fuel and battery companies.

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