Three-University Consortium To Receive Up To $26M for Fossil Energy Research
S. Korea to Implement Fuel Efficiency Ratings on New Vehicles

DOE Soliciting Projects in Thermoelectric Vehicular HVAC and Waste Heat Recovery; Li-Ion Materials and Manufacturing for PHEVs; and Aerodynamic Trailers

In a wide-ranging set of solicitations, the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE) Vehicle Technologies (VT) Program, through the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), is seeking applications for cost-shared projects in three areas of interest: thermoelectric (TE) vehicular heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC); materials and manufacturing technologies for high-energy lithium-ion batteries targeted for plug-in hybrids (PHEVs); and the fleet evaluation and factory installation of aerodynamic heavy-duty truck trailers.

Approximately $13 million will be available from DOE for the programs, which are anticipated to run from 2.5 to 3 years, depending upon the area of interest: $7.5 million for TE HVAC; $4.5 million for Li-ion materials and manufacturing; and $1 million for the aerodynamic trailer evaluation.


Current vehicular HVAC technology heats and cools the thermal loads of the surrounding structures such as the headliner, windows, flooring, and seat backs in addition to the occupants. These systems require 3,500-4,500 W of cooled air at steady state.

Thermoelectric (TE) HVAC enables the use of distributed cooling/heating units. This approach would cool/heat the specific number of occupants rather than the whole cabin and its components. Preliminary analysis indicates that <700 W of cooling or heating per person and <3,000 W for a vehicle with five occupants would be adequate for occupant comfort.

In addition to decreasing engine load and thus increasing vehicle efficiency, TE HVAC will reduce or eliminate the need for conventional air conditioning working fluids, further reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Current air conditioner technology utilizes R-134a as the working fluid. R-134a has 1,300 times the global warming potential (GWP) of carbon dioxide. The European Union is prohibiting the use of R-134a in new model cars in 2011 and all new cars by 2017, and California is considering similar legislation.

While applicable to all commercial and passenger vehicles, TE HVAC is particularly attractive for hybrids (HEVs) and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) where an electrically driven air conditioning system would be critical in maintaining occupant comfort when the engine cuts out, thereby disabling a belt-driven air conditioning compressor. Hybrid vehicles typically have small internal combustion engines which don’t have much exhaust heat; thus, some type of electrical resistance heating would be required to heat the cabin. A TE HVAC system could provide adequate occupant cooling and heating comfort (mode change involves a single electrical switch) with the same system.

Barriers to the deployment of thermoelectrics in this area are the early stage of thermoelectric generator (TEG) technological development; lack of information on their manufacturing capability; and unknown costs.

The DOE expects that the work solicited in this area will demonstrate the operational and economic viability of TE HVAC, with the goal of replacing or downsizing the current R134-a compressed refrigerant gas air conditioners.

Design features sought include:

  • A coefficient of performance (COP) of > 1.3 for cooling and > 2.3 for the heating mode.

  • Reduce the energy required by current compressed gas air conditioners by 1/3.

  • TE HVAC systems developed under this area of interest should be targeted for introduction into production vehicles in the 2012 to 2015 timeframe.

A secondary objective is to improve the efficiency of TEGs for directly converting engine waste heat to electricity and to provide much of the power for operation of the TE HVAC. This requirement would apply to vehicles with engines that provide sufficient waste heat for commercially viable direct energy conversion. Applicants need not include work on this secondary objective in their application but may do so at their discretion to assist, as necessary, in achieving the prime objective.

The DOE is looking primarily to applicants which are high volume (greater than 1,000 personal or commercial vehicles produced annually) vehicle manufacturer currently producing vehicles in the United States with other team members being subcontractors to the applicant. In the case of TE HVAC and TEGs for Class 7 & 8 heavy-duty trucks, DOE encourages applicant to be a diesel engine manufacturer producing 1,000 engines annually in the United States.

DOE will only consider applications from non-OEM entities if a high volume vehicle manufacturer or a Class 7 & 8 Heavy Duty Diesel Engine manufacturer is a major and highly involved team member.


DOE intends this solicitation to support and to speed the development and deployment of advanced Lithium-ion batteries for PHEVs that can be produced in volume, can compete effectively in the market place with conventional/currently produced hybrid vehicles, and can therefore substantially reduce petroleum consumption.

This solicitation is broken down into four subtopic areas: new high-energy anode materials; lithium-ion internal short circuit testing, modeling, and mitigation; more stable, less expensive electrolyte salts and overcharge shuttles; and scalable manufacturing processes for Li-ion materials and components.

High-Energy Anode Materials. Most of the active negative electrode materials now being used in commercial lithium-ion batteries are based on graphite. Many of the recent performance improvements have come from relatively small adjustments in the chemical formulation or physical form of well-known materials, such as graphite and hard carbon.

The DOE is seeking research to identify, synthesize, and characterize new high-energy anode materials (including lithium alloys) for use in advanced lithium-ion batteries for PHEVs. Existing materials may be used for components that are not under development (cathode, electrolyte, binder). The task objective is the demonstration of cells that show practical and useful cycle life (750 cycles of ~70% state of charge (SOC) swing with less than 20% capacity fade) in large format cells with a significant (greater than two times) improvement in the specific capacity of the negative electrode over graphite-based electrodes.

Successful applicants must clearly explain and demonstrate all of the advantages (e.g., increased energy density, reduced cost, improved abuse tolerance) of the proposed anode material over existing ones, and describe why the material is expected to result in a significant improvement over current state of the art materials.

The DOE is ruling out consideration of materials that degrade other critical properties such as cost, power capability, life, or abuse tolerance, as compared to existing anode materials.

Specifically, the DOE is seeking:

  • Negative electrode materials that exhibit usable specific capacities greater than twice that of graphite (or > 750mAh/g active material), and that result in a total electrode specific capacity of at least 600mAh/g. That is, the total electrode, including active material; conductive additive (if any), and binder (if any) must demonstrate a specific capacity of 600mAh/g.

  • The active materials should be capable of being coated onto electrodes in thicknesses needed for high-energy batteries, ~50µm or more.

  • The developer should be prepared to deliver (during the first six months of the agreement) negative electrodes capable of initial specific capacities of 650mAh/g and achieving ~50 full charge/discharge cycles in small laboratory scale cells (50 to 100mAh) at the 1C rate with less than 20% capacity fade.

  • Near the middle of the period of performance of the agreement, 18650 or larger format cells shall be assembled with the anode material, cycled, and examined to better characterize and understand any failure modes under cycling and calendar aging.

Lithium-ion Internal Short Circuit Testing, Modeling, and Mitigation. The potential hazard associated with a thermal runaway event in a large format HEV cell (~5Ah), PHEV cell (~10 to 40Ah) or full battery (~5kWh) is significant, according to the DOE. One abuse event of particular concern in vehicle applications is the internal short.

Internal shorts are presently extremely difficult to predict or detect prior to thermal runaway, and, therefore, mitigation techniques require additional active and passive protection devices that increase the cost, volume, and weight of the battery systems.

The DOE is seeking applications to:

  • Develop an experimental method to “implant” internal short circuits that can be reproducibly and predictably activated in lithium-ion cells so that the resulting abuse event can be systematically studied as a function of SOC and temperature;

  • Model the internal shorts using known electrochemical and thermal reactions, along with thermal propagation kinetics, so that lessons learned can be applied to additional chemistries and cell designs; and

  • Develop methods to either mitigate the impact of internal shorts or to predict their imminent appearance to permit cell or battery shutdown.

Applicants will need to show how their experimental method is applicable to a wide range of cell geometries, including prismatic, flat plate/stacked, and cylindrical. Cell builds ranging in size from laboratory scale (50 to 100mAh) to 18650-scale (1-3 Ah) shall be used to demonstrate and validate the experimental approach. The approach shall then be used to demonstrate the impact of internal short circuits on the cell as a function of state of charge (SOC = 30, 50, 70, 90%) and temperature (T = 10, 20, 30, 40, and 50ºC). Following this, the contractor shall develop mitigation approaches and plan to demonstrate those approaches’ usefulness through additional testing of large format cells.

More Stable, Less Expensive Electrolyte Salts and Overcharge Shuttles. High-energy and high-power lithium-ion cells and batteries may be subject to inadvertent, abusive overcharge if the battery’s control mechanism fails. Even low levels of overcharge have been shown to make a cell more susceptible to thermal runaway. More extreme overcharge can produce rapid events such as venting with smoke and possibly flames.

Past work has indicated that this problem might be addressed by incorporating salts or additives into the cell’s electrolyte that become electro-active above a specified voltage (Vshunt) and then shunt or shuttle the current, thus maintaining the maximum voltage at Vshunt. These materials should have no effect on cell operation at normal voltages, yet provide a current path at elevated voltages.

The DOE is seeking applications to develop and demonstrate electroactive salts and/or additives that provide robust overcharge abuse tolerance. The material must provide overcharge protection up to and including C/3 charging rates, and must not result in degradation of other cell components or properties such as the electrolyte cost, discharge and regen power capability, or cycle and calendar life.

Nickelate and cobalt-based cathode materials are particularly susceptible to overcharge abuse, and thus overcharge shuttles that activate in the range of 4.1-4.5V are of particular interest. In addition, development of an alternative salt that is more stable and lower cost than existing salts (LiPF6) will also be considered.

Scalable Manufacturing Processes for Li-ion Battery Materials and Components. The DOE is seeking applications for development of improved scalable manufacturing processes for the production of low-cost, high-quality Li-ion battery materials and components for PHEVs. Developers should clearly describe the process for production and material or component that will be improved, and what specific problem the proposed work will overcome (e.g. improved cathode stability, lower cost materials or components).

Developers may choose the particular battery materials or component to be used for the improved process method, but must clearly explain and demonstrate all of the advantages (e.g., reduced cost, improved quality, and improved performance) of the proposed production method and specific chemistry. Developers shall also describe what metric besides cost is to be used to measure material/component quality.


Earlier DOE work with the Truck Manufacturers Association (TMA) showed that substantial fuel economy improvements can be achieved through aggressive reductions in the aerodynamic drag of heavy-duty truck trailers.

The primary focus of this solicitation is to support the development of  trailers that achieve a 20% reduction in aerodynamic drag (leading to approximately a 10% improvement in fuel economy) compared to current, conventional trailers. An alternate option would be for proposing teams to present integrated aerodynamic solutions leading to a 15% improvement in fuel economy for the tractor/trailer combination.

Work under either the primary focus or the alternate option is expected to help focus industry efforts to identify and downselect aerodynamic devices; conduct fleet evaluations to glean relevant real world data; and coalesce aerodynamic options into saleable, comprehensive system solutions providing an attractive rate of return for fleet customers.

The DOE is encouraging applicants to be a high-volume Class VII or VIII heavy-duty trailer and/or truck/trailer manufacturer currently producing greater than 1,000 trailers or tractors/trailers annually in the United States with other team members being subcontractors to the applicant. Applications from other entities will only be considered if a high volume (greater than 1,000 trailers/tractors produced annually) manufacturer is a team member.

Advanced aerodynamic solutions developed under this program should be capable of being economically mass-produced, safe, and amenable to the broad commercial truck market. Factory installed aerodynamic solutions expected to achieve a 20% reduction in trailer aerodynamic drag or 15% improvement in overall fuel economy of the tractor/trailer combination shall be available for purchase by truck fleets within 2 1/2 years from project start date, according to the DOE.



Harvey D

What a basket full of wonderful good intentions with snippet funding.

It is rediculous to expect meaningful results in all those stated fields with $13 million unless those funds are to advertise the program and that the real funds (a few $ billion) will come after the elections.

Did I miss something here?


Yeah, I agree Harvey. They should just cancel the whole thing!

Obviously $1M of free money is just not even worth the time for PACCAR or anybody else to do partially subsidized research (of the type they need to do anyway to stay competitive versus railroads and other manufacturers).

Rafael Seidl

Thermoelectric elements based on the Peltier effect are notoriously inefficient. For reference, a 3kW A/C unit is quite enough for most houses.

The focus should be on (a) keeping the sun out in the first place and, (b) using waste heat in the coolant to deliver refrigeration.

The former depends on a combination of window size, window angle to the sun, glass & coatings technology and, insulation. Shaded parking spots help, too, but many cities in sunny climes also suffer from a water shortage and don't want to spend money on maintaining trees on public property. Likewise, erecting roof structures costs money, so they are often omitted.

The latter can be achieved - in theory - using an absorption chiller that is based on porous membranes and therefore impervious to vibrations and gross vehicle motion. Frank Schaal at the Univ. of Stuttgart has been doing some interesting work on this, but the technology is still very much in the lab.


Its enough to see what pops up.

Mad Max

"Shaded parking spots help, too, but many cities in sunny climes also suffer from a water shortage and don't want to spend money on maintaining trees on public property."

Solar panels instaled above parking lots would have the supplementary benefif of shading the cars underneath and of not consuming space. It is also likely that there will be demand for the electricity nearby.


"Did I miss something here?"
When a country is spending $13 billion every month to brink Democracy to Middle Eastern petroleum reserves there's no much left for geeky stuff like R&D.

John Taylor

Approximately $13 million will be available from DOE for the programs,

The war over the last dregs of the planets oil gets $13 billion every month. (I know it's all about helping the Iraqi, and oil is only a side issue, but don't believe it either).

If the war ended and even one month's worth of squandered resources were spent on finding and implementing real solutions to the off-oil future, there would be a future to look forward to.

So far the DOE is a joke. The countries future energy needs will not be solved by a hybrid battery and a slightly less inefficient truck trailer.


Part of that military expenditure would still exist with or without the Iraq war.

Considering that the department of energy requested $24 billion for their budget in 2008: $2.4billion towards the "advanced energy initiative", $179 million for biofuels, $1.24 billion for office of renewable energy and energy efficiency, $875 million for nuclear energy, $863 million for fossil energy (including carbon sequestration efforts), $4.4 billion for the American competitiveness budget, $4.4 billion for the office of science, $9.4 billion for nuclear security...and on and on...

So tell me, where you would cut funding to prop up this funding more? The funding for the department of defense is not really relevant here, now is it? DoD does not fund energy projects [probably why they have the DoE in the first place!].


IMHO, the lion's share of these funds should be dedicated to aerodynamic trailers and absorption cooling. Both of those are very real and existing technologies and promise to be cost negative.

Aerodynamic additions to trailers, such as duck-tails, side skirts, and possibly turbulators, have already been developed and only need to be taken to the market. Perhaps someone with deep pockets could come up with some way to finance them so that cash strapped operators can afford them.

Absorption cooling in conjunction with mild hybridization could bring a ~5% fuel savings to the table without much added cost. My only concern would be how the AC system would function while the car is off (idle).


I agree, we should allow all the Iraqis to die, kill them off as Syria and Iran fight over the turf in the middle east, then Saudi Arabia.

Lets go for $200, $300 bbl oil, why not. Its all the evil bush-hitler fault.

Just like in Vietnam, we should follow the democrats and allow 1.5 million innocent die again. I'm all for it.

Then, we should allow Iran, Syria invade and murder all the Jews too while we're at it.

I think I'm beginning to enjoy being a liberal. Why worry about others, when I can worry about myself.



hook, line and sinker eh? does it taste good?

oil isn't at $100 and not $200 because of the Iraq war, its actually at $100 and not $50 because of the war!

And please, the last time America or ANY country help another one out of pure altruism, and to the tune of $1 Trillion was..... err.... NEVER! never did and never will. I don't see America marching in to any one of 30 basket case countries in Africa, or North Korea, or anywhere else.

Except afghanistan and that is in fact a paritaly ustifiable war.... which is why there are only a handful of US troops there - because there is no oil!

Liberals, Democrats, republicans, conservatives... blah, blah blah. people are people. killing anyone over oil is moronic.

imagine the amount of progress in all areas of need (energy, resources, poverty, education, etc) $1 Trillion dollars could have acomplished.

Instead you have $100 oil, climbing inflation, and a fantastically and increasingly wealthy (fanatical) middle east which is buying up a bankrupt America (look who has been investing/bailing out the financial sector lately).

ya, that is a picture I am sure liberals and conservatives alike really cherish.

Harvey D

USA is not completely down nor entirely sold out yet.

America has the technology, know-how, population and resourses to be the leader in the new CLEAN ELECTRIC ECONOMY but the collective will and wisdom may not be there yet.

Of course, a country who embarks into this NEW ECONOMY, will have to protect it during the initial implementation phases for at least two or three decades.

Adequate and acceptable protection could be realized by rigorously imposing a carbon/GHG tax on all imported goods (proportional to the GHG created to produce and use such products) including oil, NG, electricity, all manufactured goods, agriculture products, raw material etc.

The funds collected could be used to finance the transistion to the NEW ECONOMY.

In other words, to trade freely with USA, one would have to produce goods with very little GHG thoroughout the full life cycle. Otherwise, very steep tariffs or complete ban would be applied.


no, america is not out yet. In fact i beleiuve it has a great future... if the can drop the sword. and more specifically, if it can again gain control over the various vested interests who benefit from war.

and think about this - what is the economic multiplier that could be applied to $1 spent on war? (thikn bombs, logistics etc?) its zero and possibly negative.

in other words, invest in productivity (improving technology, efficinecy etc etc - what America good at) and the multiplier effect is huge. 5x, 10x +.


Heat recovery for long haul trucks seems like a good idea. If BMW can get 15 hp or about 10kwh out of their turbosteamer on a small engine, imagine what kind of energy you could get out of a huge block diesel truck engine. Even if it is just used to cool the truck cab with electric AC, it would get the AC compressor off of the belt and save fuel.

It seems like a lot of this gets underfunded by the DOE. With so little money, you can look into it and write papers, but that is about it. Maybe that is what this group wants, so this is what they do. If they actually funded it and had real products, that would lower the price of oil...can't have that! :)

Harvey D


It is unbelievable that DoE could be part of a large scam to protect the Oil industry. They may have been instructed to play a delaying game and make the administration look good with a thousand + mini hand-outs. That's politics.

A more credible possibility is that they may not have a long term effective plan or they just don't know exactly what to do next.

This may or may not change after November 2008.



We will see. One thing I do know is that the price of oil has more than quadrupled since this group has come to power. I personally do not think that is an accident or coincidence, but that is just my opinion. One thing seems clear, these policies are underfunded and will probably be ineffective. I do not think that is a coincidence either.


How about this concept. This price of oil has been destined to sky rocket no matter which side was in power, so it makes no sense to look at the current administration and assume that it would be any different with anyone else. In other words, did Mr. Bush's team do anything (other than increased military activity) that has caused our country and the world to use more oil with OPEC becoming more protective of their oil reserves that they have left.

This is a world energy crisis that was coming, because we (and others) did not work towards energy independence and less reliance on petroleum sources for energy back in the seventies. This crude dependence is not a short term fix neither is it a cheap fix, and that's why nothing has been done.

If we do as the other side states and spend billions to begin to become more energy independent, there is no doubt that energy prices, and/or taxes and/or the national debt will go up even more (in the short term). There is no way around it, but it is probably best for long term survival of our society, as the longer we wait, the more oil will drain our wealth. And as our wealth drains, we will be less able to fix problems on our own. We should not assume that taking such action will initially bring down the cost of petroleum-based fuels. If anything, we'll be looking at higher energy prices or higher taxes to prop up something else for many years to come.

I'm not defending the current administration. I'm just saying that this is not a government policy problem that was invented over the last eight years, but a world energy crisis that has built up over the last forty years, and that it will take lots of dollars and consumer wealth to fix this problem.

If something were cheaper and more efficient than oil, the market would have already switched us over to that "something else". I believe the market may be at the tipping point now, but all those companies that reap the benefits of an oil-dependent world will try to keep the status quo. It is time for American entrepreneurs to take risks and go after a more efficient energy and stand up against the massive oil companies. It is time too for the American public to support those entrepreneurs, even when it may cost them an extra dime. Right now, there are thousands of entrepreneurs that are taking risk in the areas of renewable fuels and alternative energies, but the majority of Americans have shown very little will to support a change.


I agree that the world oil situation is THE factor. Imagine that you could get someone elected that would have his V.P. meet with all the oil industry executives in the the first 100 days, but would not tell you who they met with or what they talked about. This would allow you to have plans to make the most money in the declining supply situation.

Imagine that some of your administration wrote books about how your people had maps of Iraqi oil fields out on the tables during discussions well in advance of 9/11. Also imagine how after the invasion of Iraq, the first things protected where the oil ministry and the oil fields.

When you are in the oil business and you used to get less than $20 per barrel for oil but would like to get more than $100 per barrel, what would you do? You could get two people elected that were at one time part of the oil industry. You would get someone in there that saw things your way.

There is no proof, but a lot of evidence. It goes by the standard of convicted by a jury of your peers by the weight of overwhelming evidence. This is not just coincidence that we have a risk premium added to the world oil situation. I do not call it a conspiracy, but some might call it good business.

i think the point was that it would have been better for the US economy, the US economic and security future, the Iraqi's and pretty much the world had the US spent $1 Tillion Dollars on anything but a war.
what a missed opportunity.

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