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DOE Announces Research Projects for Fuel Efficiency

The DOE announced six projects in a public-private partnership with itself, industry and academia aimed at improving the vehicle efficiency of cars and trucks. The six projects carry a value of more than $14 million, of which DOE is contributing approximately 50%.

DOE has a goal of improving the efficiency of internal combustion engines from 30% to 45% by 2010 for light-duty vehicles and from 40% to 55% by 2013 for heavy-duty vehicles. The DOE estimates that the project technologies under development could reduce fuel use for all highway vehicles by 10%.

Four projects worth some $4.3 million are in the area of advanced, high-efficiency, clean combustion in gasoline or diesel engines.

  • Michigan State University is shooting for an in-vehicle fuel economy improvement of 20% over baseline port-fuel-injected gasoline engines currently in production. Its proposed engine concept employs a high-compression-ratio, modified Atkinson combustion cycle that uses a novel low-pressure direct injection fuel system and electronically-controlled pneumatic valve actuation. These systems will be enhanced and enabled by combustion-sensing ionization feed-back control for knock and combustion stability control and a forward-backward mass air flow sensor system for precise air-fuel ratio control. The research team includes Visteon. (DOE cost: $691,943; Industry cost share: $691,366)

  • Honeywell International will work on the development, validation, and optimization of advanced fast-response particulate matter and nitrous oxides sensors suitable to support an exhaust gas recirculation control system in diesel engines. Team members include the University of Minnesota Center for Diesel Research and John Deere Power Systems. (DOE cost: $583,000; Industry cost share: $165,000)

  • Delphi Automotive Systems will develop and validate an optimal, cost-effective approach to variable valve actuation for advanced, low-temperature combustion processes in diesel engines. Team members include Electricore. (DOE cost: $706,164; Industry cost share: $508,794)

  • Envera will develop and validate a fast-response actuator system for adjusting the compression ratio to improve efficiency in variable compression ratio gasoline and diesel engines and provide improved control of advanced homogeneous charge compression combustion processes. Work will be focused on demonstrating an acutator system having a fast cycle-resolved response, high reliability, low cost, and minimal parasitic power load on the engine and will include the fabrication, installation, and testing of an optimized actuator system in a vehicle. Team members include Magna-Steyr and Automotive Specialists. (DOE cost: $522,265; Industry cost share: $463,448)

A single $1-million project is on the integration of on-board idle-reduction technology in heavy trucks. International Truck and Engine Corporation will make idle-reduction equipment available on new trucks as a factory option. Work includes the validation of component and system capabilities, release of factory documentation for production, completion of a pre-production pilot build of a truck with the idle reduction system and field testing under hot and cold season conditions to evaluate system performance and reliability. Team members include Cummins, Vanner, and Bergstrom. (DOE cost: $350,000; Industry cost share: $688,998)

The largest single project—worth $9 million—focuses on the testing and evaluation of commercially available and pre-production light-, medium-, and heavy-duty advanced technology vehicles using advanced energy storage technologies (such as batteries, ultra-capacitors, and high-pressure, high-volume hydrogen storage tanks); advanced drive trains; internal combustion engines burning advanced fuels (such as 100 percent hydrogen and hydrogen enriched natural gas blended fuels); advanced climate control, power electronic, and other ancillary systems; and combinations of advanced onboard engine technologies (hybrids).

The project, to be performed by Clarity Group, also includes evaluations of the necessary infrastructure required to fuel advanced technology vehicles. (DOE cost: $4,500,000; Industry cost share: $4,500,000)



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