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$60M from DOE for Combustion Research

The Department of Energy is going to award up to $60 million to researchers focusing on ways “to improve the efficiency of internal combustion engines for light- and heavy-duty engines through technological advances in combustion and waste heat recovery.” The solicitation outlines the two primary topics of interest:

  • Enabling High Efficiency Clean Combustion

  • Exhaust Energy recovery

The first deals with areas such as HCCI, the latter with areas such as EGR. (Earlier posts on these areas.)

The solicitiation is “fuel-neutral”. The fuel does not have to be gasoline or diesel, it only has to be liquid at ambient conditions.

The baseline goals are to improve engine efficiency by 10% or more in each topic. Proposals are due in 26 July, and it will be very interesting to see where this goes.

Also of interest is the way the DOE articulates the market context for this work:

America’s energy security is dependent largely on the efficiency and fuel choices made for the transportation system. The transportation sector, in turn, has a significant influence on the nation’s economic and environmental well-being. Our highway vehicles use more petroleum products than our country produces domestically. As transportation energy use continues to grow, the situation will only worsen. Domestic oil production has been steadily declining for over two decades and oil imports are expected to reach 70% by 2025. Oil imports have been a growing problem, because petroleum resources are distant from most of the world’s consumers, unevenly distributed globally, and concentrated in regions with political or environmental sensitivities. Not only is the U.S. demand for oil growing, but the global demand in both industrialized and developing countries is increasing rapidly, especially in countries such as China and India where the growth in motor vehicles is far outpacing that of the U.S.

The President’s FreedomCAR and Hydrogen Fuel Initiative are designed to reverse America’s growing dependence on foreign oil by developing the technology for hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles by the middle of the next decade. Before fuel cell vehicles become a commercial reality and a hydrogen infrastructure is in place, vehicle efficiency improvements are needed for the transition from current internal combustion engines to fuel cell vehicles. The Office of FreedomCAR and Vehicle Technologies (OFCVT), in conjunction with its industry partner, the U.S. Council for Automotive Research (USCAR) is leading the effort, through the FreedomCAR Partnership, to develop the technologies that improve vehicle efficiency in the interim and simultaneously facilitate the transition ultimately to hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles.


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