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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.]

European research project AdaptIVe targeting advances in automated driving technologies

February 01, 2014

Representation of AdapIVe’s working point between full driver control and full vehicle control. Source: Volkswagen Research. Click to enlarge.

A major European research project, AdaptIVe (Automated Driving Applications & Technologies for Intelligent Vehicles), targeting breakthrough advances that will lead to more efficient and safe automated driving kicked off at the MobileLifeCampus in Wolfsburg, Germany on Friday. AdaptIVe is an effort by a consortium of 29 partners—automotive manufacturers, suppliers, research institutes and universities, and small- and medium-sized businesses—coordinated by Volkswagen Group Research.

Over the planned 42-month duration of AdaptIVe, the partners will develop and test new functionalities for cars and trucks, offering both partially automated and highly automated driving on motorways, in urban scenarios, and for close-distance maneuvers.

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DOE proposing $100M in FY2014 for 2nd round of funding for Energy Frontier Research Centers

October 01, 2013

US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced a proposed $100 million in FY2014 funding for Energy Frontier Research Centers; research supported by this initiative will enable fundamental advances in energy production and use.

The Department of Energy (DOE) currently funds 46 Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs), which were selected for five-year funding in 2009. (Earlier post.) With support for those centers set to expire in July 2014, DOE has announced a “re-competition” for a second round of funding (DE-FOA-0001010).

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NASA rolls out new strategic vision for aeronautics research

August 15, 2013

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden unveiled a new strategic vision better to align the work of the agency’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD) to address looming challenges in global air transportation. Bolden shared the strategic vision in a keynote speech at the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics’ Aviation 2013 conference in Los Angeles.

The new vision addresses three “mega-drivers” that are expected to alter aviation during the next 20 to 40 years: significant growth in planet-wide demand for air mobility, prompted by Asian market growth and global urbanization; mounting concerns related to climate and energy; and the convergence of technologies ranging from new materials to embedded sensors to ubiquitous networking.

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Elon Musk unveils Hyperloop preliminary design study

August 12, 2013

Linear accelerator concept for capsule acceleration and deceleration between 300 and 760 mph (480 and 1,220 km/h). Click to enlarge.

Tesla Motors and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk released the preliminary design study for what he calls “The Hyperloop”—a new high-speed electric transportation system targeted for the the specific case of high-traffic city pairs (e.g., San Francisco and Los Angeles) that are less than about 1500 km or 900 miles apart. (For longer distances, Musk suggests, quiet supersonic air travel would be faster and cheaper.)

Hyperloop—which is an open-source concept, user feedback is welcome—consists of paired partially-evacuated tubes (0.015 psi, 100 Pa), with passenger capsules (or pods) that are transported at both low and high speeds throughout the length of the tube. The capsules are supported on a cushion of air, featuring pressurized air and aerodynamic lift. The capsules are accelerated via a magnetic linear accelerator affixed at various stations on the low pressure tube. Stators are located on the capsules to transfer momentum to the capsules via the linear accelerators.

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CAAFI R&D team releases critical challenges position paper and white papers for alternative jet fuel industry

August 06, 2013

The Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI) R&D team released its current position paper on critical R&D challenges facing the alternative jet fuel industry, highlighting near-, mid-, and long-term priorities. The Position Paper is supported by a series of white papers describing the path forward on these key topics.

The position paper is the result a meeting last fall at which more than 80 members of the CAAFI R&D team—comprising a range of stakeholders from the aviation and alternative fuels industries, academia, and government—identified and discussed key immediate and longer-term needs for targeted funding to maximize the efficacy of the incipient alternative jet fuels industry. Critical enablers requiring immediate development are:

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JRC assesses EU RD&D investments in electric-drive vehicles; controls and energy storage top the list

July 20, 2013

Distribution of total investments and public co-funding in publicly co-funded R&D projects. Controls and energy storage top the list. Source: JRC. Click to enlarge.

A report from the JRC on research, development and demonstration (RD&D) projects on electric drive vehicles (not including fuel cell vehicles) in the EU finds that increased exchange of information and more coordination between projects would result in a better leverage of the investments—at this point, some €1.9 billion (US$2.5 billion), 65% from public funding. The JRC (Joint Research Centre) is the European Commission’s (EC’s) in-house science service.

The report is the third in a series that deals with aspects of electromobility in Europe. Its goal was to collect the information on all on-going or recently concluded RD&D projects on electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, which received EU or national public funding with a budget of more than €1 million (US$1.3 million), in order to assess which of the electric drive vehicles (EDV) challenges are addressed by these projects and to identify potential gaps in the RD&D landscape in Europe.

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$11M European project seeks to increase lifetime and energy density of automotive Li-ion batteries; second-life use

July 19, 2013

A €8.4-million (US$11-million) European research project will seek to increase the lifetime and energy density of large-format automotive Li-ion batteries, with a target of a 4,000-cycle lifetime at 80% DOD (depth of discharge) and an energy density of 250 Wh/kg. The goal is a commercial pre-product by the end of the project in September 2016.

The Batteries2020 project approach is based on three parallel strategies: 1) highly focused materials development; 2) understanding aging and degradation phenomena; and 3) routes to reduce battery cost, including second-life use. The project, led by Basque R&D Center IK4-IKERLAN, is receiving €5.9 million (US$7.8 million) in funding from the EU’s 7th Framework Programme.

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Obama Administration launches $200M competition for three new manufacturing innovation institutes; WBG power electronics, lightweight metals and digital manufacturing

May 09, 2013

The Obama Administration is launching competitions to create three new manufacturing innovation institutes with a Federal commitment of $200 million across five Federal agencies: Defense, Energy, Commerce, NASA, and the National Science Foundation. The effort is part of President Obama’s proposed $1-billion investment to create a network of 15 manufacturing innovation institutes across the country. (Earlier post.)

The Department of Energy will lead one of the new institutes on “Next Generation Power Electronics Manufacturing” for wide bandgap semiconductors such as silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN) (DE-FOA-0000683). The Department of Defense will lead the other two, focused on “Lightweight and Modern Metals Manufacturing” and “Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation”.

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US DOE to award up to $20M for research on methane hydrates

May 08, 2013

The US Department of Energy (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory has issued a solicitation (DE-FOA-0000891) for up to $20 million in funding for projects that focus on the following three technical topic areas: (1) characterization of methane hydrate deposits; (2) response of methane hydrate reservoirs to induced environmental change; and (3) response of methane hydrate systems to natural environmental change.

Selected projects will be intended to support program goals to determine the (1) likelihood of methane hydrates as a potential energy resource and (2) their role in the natural environment. The objective of the program is to fund research that significantly advances the current state of knowledge or technology with respect to methane hydrate science.

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DOE launches Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative; awards $23.5M to 5 more manufacturing R&D projects

March 26, 2013

The US Department of Energy (DOE) launched the Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative (CEMI), which will focus on growing US manufacturing of clean energy products and boosting US competitiveness through major improvements in manufacturing energy productivity. The initiative includes private sector partnerships, new funding from the Department, and enhanced analysis of the clean energy manufacturing supply chain that will guide DOE’s future funding decisions.

As a part of its increased focus on manufacturing research and development, DOE also awarded $23.5 million to 5 innovative manufacturing research and development projects. This new funding for advanced manufacturing—as well as the $54 million invested in 13 projects during the first round of selections in June of 2012 (earlier post)—is to serve as a ground floor investment in CEMI.

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California Energy Commission awards more than $5.5M for green transportation projects and $1.8M for 20 energy research projects

March 21, 2013

The California Energy Commission (CEC) approved $5,580,773 for clean-energy transportation projects including biodiesel production, power control electronics for medium-and heavy-duty battery electric vehicles, and buydowns for propane vehicles. The awards were made through the Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program.

In addition, CEC awarded $1,815,274 to fund 20 energy research projects in the areas of transportation, electricity, and natural gas. Funds for these projects—which span areas as diverse as a new crossover valve for the split-cycle Tour Engine (earlier post) to a new solar thermal storage device capable of integration with utility scale solar thermal power plants—come from Commission’s Energy Innovations Small Grant (EISG) program.

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President Obama calls on Congress to establish $2B Energy Security Trust for advanced transportation research, funded by oil and gas royalty revenues

March 15, 2013

Click to enlarge.

In an speech at Argonne National Laboratory today, President Obama called on Congress to establish a new Energy Security Trust (EST) to invest in critical, breakthrough research focused on developing cost-effective transportation alternatives. The President had referenced the concept of the EST during his State of the Union address earlier this year. (Earlier post.)

The President’s proposal sets aside $2 billion over 10 years and will support research into a range of technologies such as advanced electrified vehicles, biofuels, fuel cells, and domestically produced natural gas. The mandatory funds would be set aside from royalty revenues generated by oil and gas development in Federal waters of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), already included in the administration’s five-year plan.

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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

February 02, 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:

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