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Michigan Energy and Advanced Automotive Research Lined Up for $99.5M in Funding from FY2010 Defense Appropriations Bill

The Defense Appropriations Bill for fiscal year 2010, passed earlier this month by the US Senate Appropriations Committee and now under consideration by the full Senate, contains US$14.4 billion in funding for Michigan firms, the majority of which—$12.4 billion—is allocated for vehicle and weapons procurement, according to Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.

Of the total, $99.5 million is designated for energy research and development ($75 million), with a heavy emphasis on lithium-ion battery technology; and advanced automotive systems development ($24.5 million), including hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and hydraulic hybrids.

A significant amount of the total funding will be used by the Warren, Mich.-based Army Tank and Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) and its National Automotive Center. TARDEC is the Department of Defense’s (DoD) leading laboratory for research and development of advanced military vehicle technologies. This will include more than $250 million for Army research on combat vehicle and automotive technologies.

This includes work on systems to protect Army vehicles against rocket propelled grenades, improvised explosive devices and explosively formed projectiles; advanced materials for combat and tactical vehicle armor; more efficient engines; fuel cell and hybrid electric vehicles; unmanned ground vehicles; computer simulations for vehicle design and training of Army personnel; and technology partnerships with the automotive industry.

The breakout on the energy and automotive projects are as follows:

Energy Research and Development

  • $50 million for domestic lithium ion battery production. These funds will be used for a competitive program to develop domestic industrial sources of advanced battery technologies for use in military applications. Lithium ion batteries also have dual-use applications in the commercial automotive industry for hybrid electric vehicles. The availability of domestically manufactured lithium ion batteries is critical to both the DoD and to the ability of our automotive manufacturers to produce the next generation of ground vehicles.

  • $10 million for an advanced battery development program. These funds would initiate a new advanced battery technology development program at TARDEC. Advanced battery technology offers tremendous potential to significantly improve the near-term operational performance and capability for military vehicles to generate, distribute and store electrical power. Advanced batteries are also recognized as a critical component of developing military hybrid vehicles.

  • $8 million to continue the Vehicle Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Logistics Program. This Defense Logistics Agency-managed competitive program continues the development of fuel cell technologies for use in DoD vehicles and the development of the hydrogen infrastructure to support use of those vehicles. A critical component of this program is the development of a comprehensive and integrated strategy for the appropriate use of hydrogen to meet DoD requirements in the future.

  • $3 million to continue development of lightweight, rechargeable lithium-ion batteries using nanomaterials technology. Lithium-ion batteries could be considerably lighter, much more capable, and more affordable than currently available battery systems. A123 Systems of Ann Arbor has been working with the government on this research for several years.

  • $2 million for development of flexible photovoltaics. This project seeks to develop technologies necessary to lower the cost of roof top solar electric systems to reach grid parity. The goal is to generate solar electricity at a cost comparable to that obtained by the burning of fossil fuels. United Solar Ovonic in Auburn Hills has extensive experience with flexible photovoltaics.

  • $2 million to continue a biofuels research program through the Defense Logistics Agency. Interest in biofuels is driven by high oil prices, environmental concerns, as well as national security concerns. Aggressive efforts are required to develop advanced biofuels such as cellulosic ethanol and butanol, high-yield biodiesel, and wood-derived bio-oil, all of which have significant potential to be utilized by DoD.

Advanced Automotive

  • $10 million for vehicle systems engineering and integration activities at TARDEC. TARDEC has a requirement to further develop the in-house technical, systems engineering and systems integration skills necessary to serve as the systems integrator for all current and future Army manned and unmanned ground vehicles. These funds will help TARDEC to significantly expand its technical in-house capabilities through retraining of its current workforce and the hiring of engineers, scientists and technicians.

  • $4 million to continue a coordinated hybrid engine development program at TARDEC. This merit-based program focuses on both basic and applied research in engine technology, power electronics, control technology and other areas. Research areas include theoretical analysis, computational design and analysis, and experimental verification components.

  • $3 million for the development and testing of advanced plug-in hybrid vehicle technologies. This project seeks to develop and deploy plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) technologies that will reduce DoD fuel consumption using conventional generation, renewable generation, and vehicles with exportable electric power. NextEnergy in Detroit has extensive experience with hybrid vehicle technologies and has been working with the Army for a number of years on related projects.

  • $3.5 million for hydraulic hybrid vehicle technology. This research seeks to produce a new line of advanced, highly efficient, hydraulic pump and motor products which will replace conventional automatic transmissions and could significantly improve overall drivetrain efficiency in military ground vehicles. Bosch Rexroth Corporation has been working with the Army for several years on the development of hydraulic hybrid technology.

  • $4 million for the development of virtual systems integration technology. This technology seeks to quickly and efficiently perform evaluations and trade studies on competing system designs, perform requirements analysis, and validate system modifications and designs both early in the procurement process and later during enhancements. This process will make the vehicle systems design and component selection more efficient and cost effective. Cybernet Systems Corporation in Ann Arbor has been working with the Army on this technology for several years.


Henry Gibson

The General Electric truck and locomotive hybrid prototypes point out that ZEBRA batteries are far more suited to vehicle operation at high and low temperatures without air-conditioning systems being needed for the battery pack. GE is now building a factory for such battery types.

The Artemis efficient hydraulic system was transferred to Bosch after it was proven in a standard automobile to cut fuel use up to one half without changing the engine to a smaller engine for even higher efficiency. Government grants already developed the UPS hydraulic hybrid truck. ..HG..

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