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[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]

Toyota Research Institute establishes 3rd US facility; AI, materials science and robotics research at U-M

April 08, 2016

Toyota will establish its third Toyota Research Institute (TRI) facility in the US. The new facility will be located in Ann Arbor, near the University of Michigan (U-M) campus where it will fund research in artificial intelligence, robotics and materials science. Joining the TRI facility established last January in Palo Alto working with Stanford (TRI-PAL), and in Cambridge working with MIT (TRI-CAM), TRI-ANN is scheduled to open in June.

Although the focus of each of the three strategically located facilities will be broad, each will feature a different core discipline. TRI-ANN will focus primarily on fully autonomous (chauffeured) driving. TRI-PAL will work on what may be termed “guardian angel” driving, where the driver is always engaged but the vehicle assists as needed. TRI-CAM will dedicate a large portion of its work to simulation and deep learning.

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DOE BETO seeking input on Optima initiative for co-optimization of fuels and engines

December 17, 2015

The US Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) and Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) have released a request for information (RFI) (DE-FOA-0001460) titled “Co-Optimization of Fuels and Engines” (Optima).

The Optima program is a key collaborative initiative being pursued by EERE, VTO, and BETO. The Optima initiative is focused on the development of new fuels and engine architectures that are co-optimized—i.e., designed in tandem to maximize performance and carbon efficiency. (Earlier post.) The initiative intends to accelerate the widespread deployment of significantly improved fuels and vehicles (passenger to light truck to heavy duty commercial vehicles) by 2030. Specifically, Optima is targeting a reduction in per-vehicle petroleum consumption by 30% versus the 2030 business as usual.

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Toyota to invest ~$50M to establish joint research centers at MIT and Stanford; intelligent vehicle and mobility technologies

September 04, 2015

Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) will be investing approximately $50 million over the next 5 years to establish joint research centers at Stanford and MIT, focused on the research and development of intelligent vehicle and mobility technologies.

Additionally Dr. Gill Pratt, former Program Manager at DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) and leader of its recent Robotics Challenge, has joined Toyota to direct and accelerate these research activities and their application to intelligent vehicles and robotics.

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DOE awarding $10M to 8 transportation technology incubator projects; single-fuel RCCI with reformer

August 26, 2015

The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award $10 million to eight incubator projects to develop innovative solutions for efficient and environmentally-friendly vehicle technologies that will help reduce petroleum use in the United States. Among the projects is a novel implementation of RCCI—Reactivity Controlled Compression Ignition, usually investigated with two fuels (earlier post)—using a single fuel with onboard fuel reformation.

Through the incubator activity, the Energy Department supports innovative technologies and solutions that have the potential to help meet program goals but are not substantially represented in its current research portfolio. These projects bring a more diverse group of stakeholders and participants to address technical challenges in the vehicle research priorities. Eventually, successfully demonstrated technologies or approaches from the incubator activity may impact existing long-term technology plans and roadmaps. Awardees include:

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NSF funds new center for advanced 2-D coatings; energy conversion and storage

August 13, 2015

A new NSF-funded Industry/University Collaborative Research Center (I/UCRC) at Penn State and Rice University will study the design and development of advanced coatings based on two-dimensional (2D) layered materials to solve fundamental scientific and technological challenges that include: corrosion, oxidation and abrasion, friction and wear, energy storage and harvesting, and the large-scale synthesis and deposition of novel multifunctional coatings.

The Center for Atomically Thin Multifunctional Coatings, (ATOMIC), is one of more than 80 Industry/University Cooperative Research Program centers established by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to encourage scientific collaboration between academia and industry. It is the only NSF center dedicated to the development of advanced 2-D coatings.

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NSF to award up to $4.8M to research projects in catalysis and biocatalysis

July 26, 2015

The National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental, and Transport Systems (CBET) has issued a new $4.8-million funding opportunity announcement (PD 15-1401) to advance research in catalytic engineering science and to promote the development of beneficial catalytic materials and reactions.

Research in the Catalysis and Biocatalysis program should focus on new basic understanding of catalytic materials and reactions, utilizing synthetic, theoretical, and experimental approaches. Target applications include fuels; specialty and bulk chemicals; environmental catalysis; biomass conversion to fuels and chemicals; conversion of greenhouse gases; and generation of solar hydrogen; as well as efficient routes to energy utilization.

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Honda opens new Silicon Valley facility to advance connected mobility; refreshed 2016 Accord; Honda Xcelerator

July 24, 2015

Honda officially opened its new Silicon Valley R&D facility, using the occasion to unveil a refreshed 2016 Accord featuring Honda’s first application of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Honda also announced a new open innovation R&D initiative—Honda Xcelerator—which will provide resources to breakthrough technology innovators to help rapidly develop prototypes with the potential to transform the automotive experience.

Honda’s Silicon Valley operation, which was first established in 2000, is charged with researching and prototyping innovations and harnessing new ideas and technology. Current areas of focus include connected mobility; novel human-machine interfaces; supporting app developers through initiatives such as Honda Developer Studio; and computer science research for vehicle intelligence. Silicon Valley engineers also spearhead the company’s working relationship with Silicon Valley-based technology companies.

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Electrochemical Society and Toyota announce fellowship winners for projects in green energy technology

July 15, 2015

The ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship Selection Committee has selected three recipients who will receive $50,000 each for the inaugural fellowships for projects in green energy technology. The winners are Professor Patrick Cappillino, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth; Professor Yogesh (Yogi) Surendranath, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Professor David Go, University of Notre Dame.

The Electrochemical Society (ECS), in partnership with the Toyota Research Institute of North America (TRINA), a division of Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc. (TEMA), launched the inaugural ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship about six months ago. More than 100 young professors and scholars pursuing innovative electrochemical research in green energy technology responded to ECS’s request for proposals.

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Stanford launches major new natural gas research initiative

June 13, 2015


Stanford University has launched a new research initiative to study comprehensively the development and use of natural gas. The new program will expand Stanford’s research on energy and the environment by focusing additional resources on the growing importance of natural gas.

US production has risen almost 50% in the past 10 years, and global demand for gas is anticipated to outpace all other fossil fuels. More than 35 professors and research staff from a dozen Stanford academic departments have already affiliated with the Natural Gas Initiative.

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Oak Ridge Lab, Hyundai Motor collaborating through new R&D agreement

June 09, 2015

Hyundai Motor Company and the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have signed an agreement intended to strengthen the automaker’s US research and development portfolio. The MOU is an expression of intent and does not create a legally binding obligation, nor does it commit funds from either party.

Hyundai Motor Company and its affiliate Kia Motors Corp. will be identifying and providing R&D needs of the automotive industry; providing feedback and evaluation technology concepts; consulting with ORNL on R&D topics related to the industry; and developing potential Hyundai-sponsored projects to be carried out under separate, legally binding agreements.

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US$7.5M JOSPEL project to develop energy efficient climate control for EVs; leveraging Joule and Peltier effects

June 03, 2015

A trans-European collaboration aims to develop a novel energy efficient climate control system to help reduce the energy used for passenger comfort in electric vehicles by at least 50%. Even in today’s modern electric vehicles, a lot of energy is wasted on heating or cooling, in turn limiting the already relatively short range by further draining the battery capacity.

The aim of the €6.7-million (US$7.5-million) JOSPEL project is to develop an efficient, electrical climate control system using an integrated approach that combines the application of the Joule and Peltier effects; efficient insulation of the vehicle interior; energy recovery from heat zones; increased battery life as a side effect of thermal management; reduced battery energy consumption via the integration of Peltier cooling; innovative automated and eco-driving strategies; and the electronic control of power flows.

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DOE to re-fund Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis with $75M for solar fuels R&D

April 29, 2015

The US Department of Energy announced $75 million in funding to renew the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP), a DOE Energy Innovation Hub originally established in 2010 with the goal of harnessing solar energy for the production of fuel. (Earlier post.)

Under the renewal plan, the five-year-old center would receive funding for an additional five years of research, subject to Congressional appropriations. JCAP researchers are focused on achieving the major scientific breakthroughs needed to produce liquid transportation fuels from a combination of sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide, using artificial photosynthesis.

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