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DOE to award up to $184M for advanced vehicle research and development in 8 areas of interest

Electric motor efficiency targets within the FOA. Click to enlarge.

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), on behalf of the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Vehicle Technologies (VT) Program is soliciting projects for funding awards of up to $184 million over 3-5 years to accelerate the development and deployment of new efficient on-road vehicle technologies that will reduce US dependence on oil and limit greenhouse gas emissions.

The new FY2011 Vehicle Technologies Program Wide Funding Opportunity Announcement (DE-FOA-0000239) addresses the development of key technologies in eight areas of interest (AOI), each with specified subtopic areas: advanced fuels and lubricants; lightweighting materials; multi-material lightweight vehicle demonstration; advanced cells and design for electric drive batteries; advanced power electronics and electric machines (APEEM); thermoelectrics and enabling engine technologies; fleet efficiency; and advanced vehicle testing and evaluation.

AOI 1: Advanced Fuels and Lubricants Technologies

The goal of this AOI is to support advanced fuels and lubricants technologies that will enable optimal performance of advanced combustion engines for passenger and commercial vehicle applications. Applications are sought proposing fuels- and lubricant-related R&D projects in accordance with three subtopics. For all subtopics, technologies may be applicable to compression ignition and/or spark ignition engines.

  • Fuels and Lubricants for Advanced Combustion Regimes. This subtopic seeks fuel-focused research on the facilitation or enhancement of advanced combustion regime engine operation– e.g., Homogeneous Charge Compression Ignition (HCCI), Low Temperature Combustion (LTC), etc. In the most-general terms, the term “advanced combustion regimes” is intended to encompass clean and highly-efficient, liquid-fueled combustion engines. Such engines may incorporate novel thermodynamic cycles, but should not simply involve regurgitation of existing concepts (e.g., Miller Cycle). The engines shall have extremely low engine-out nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) as a target; and shall have efficiency similar to state-of-the-art direct injection diesel engines (i.e., approximately 45% peak thermal efficiency for light duty and greater-than 50% peak thermal efficiency for heavy duty). DOE highly encourages applicants to collaborate and team with an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) or industrial supplier.

  • Direct Petroleum Displacement by Liquid Alternative Fuels in Vehicle Applications. This subtopic seeks research and development projects or demonstration activities related to novel renewable or alternative fuels which displace petroleum-derived fuels in vehicle applications without significant infrastructure changes, e.g., drop-in fuels or blendstocks. Fuels currently sourced or that can be sourced in the United States are highly encouraged. Such fuels should be currently available, or have the potential to become, commercially practical within the next 10 years. An analysis supporting assumptions associated with commercial practicality shall be addressed in the application.

  • Lubricant Formulations to Enhance Engine Efficiency. This subtopic seeks research and development projects on novel lubricant formulations expected to improve the efficiency of advanced combustion regime engines by at least 10% (improvement based on comparison to similarly configured 2002 or later commercially available combustion engine).

AOI 2: Lightweighting Materials

The objective of this AOI is to accelerate the realization of lighter weight vehicle materials made from magnesium and carbon fiber capable of attaining 50% weight reduction of passenger vehicles. The successful market implementation of these materials in vehicles requires that they be low cost and available in sufficient abundance to make a compelling business case. For this reason the focus of this AOI includes the development of low-cost approaches to the manufacturing of both magnesium and carbon fiber.

Subtopics include:

  • Low-Cost Development of Magnesium
  • Development of Low-Cost Carbon Fiber
  • Demonstration Project to Develop and Construct a Magnesium Intensive Vehicle Front End Sub-structure
  • Demonstration Project to Validate Crash Model For Carbon Fiber Composites to Enable Production-Feasible Composites in Primary-Structural Automotive Crash and Energy Management Applications.

AOI 3: Demonstration Project for a Multi-Material Light-Weight Prototype Vehicle as part of the Clean Energy Dialogue with Canada

Applications submitted within this AOI shall propose a demonstration project for a prototype multimaterial light-weight vehicle that is part of the Clean Energy Dialogue between the United States and Canada. This effort shall design, build and validate a light-weight material prototype vehicle that is 50% lighter through reduction in weight of the vehicle when compared to a baseline light-duty vehicle commercially available in 2002.

Off-road vehicles, motorcycles, three-wheeled vehicles, neighborhood electric vehicles, low-speed vehicles, medium-duty vehicles, heavy-duty vehicles and other non-conventional passenger vehicles are not desired and will be deemed nonresponsive to this announcement.

AOI 4: Develop Advanced Cells and Design Technology for Electric Drive Batteries

The purpose of this AOI is to develop high energy or high power Electronically Driven Vehicles (EDVs) cells that significantly exceed existing state-of-the-art technologies in terms of performance and/or cost.

Subtopic 4A: Develop Advanced Cells for Electric Drive Vehicle Batteries. The purpose of this subtopic is development and demonstration of new materials and cells that offer a significant (approaching 2x) improvement in either energy or power density (measured in Watthours per liter (Wh/l) or Watts per liter (W/l)) over state-of-the-art Lithium-ion (Li-ion) cell technologies while maintaining comparable performance standards in terms of cycle life (300-1000 cycles at 80% depth of discharge), calendar life (5-10 years), and durable cell construction and design capable of being affordably mass produced.

Some specific technologies which are of interest include (but are not limited to) battery cells (minimum 2Ah capacity) that incorporate one or more of the following:

  • High voltage (5V) and/or high capacity (>300 milliamp-hour/gram (mAh/g) active material) cathodes
  • Alloy or Li metal anodes
  • High voltage and solid polymer composite electrolytes
  • Li/air and Li/S systems
  • Other novel technologies or cells

Subtopic 4B: Develop Cells and/or Battery Packs With Significant Cost Improvement. The focus of this subtopic is the development and demonstration of new materials or battery components that offer a 50% reduction in cost over existing state-of-the-art Li-ion technologies while maintaining, or nearly maintaining, existing performance standards.

Some specific technologies which are of interest include (but are not limited to) one or more of the following:

  • Asymmetric ultracapacitors (developer may propose to deliver cells, modules, or battery packs)
  • High-power lead acid systems (developer may propose to deliver cells, modules, or battery packs)
  • Technologies that reduce the time needed for Li-ion cell formation and improved Li-ion coating process through the use of either dry processing techniques or more environmentally benign solvents, such as water
  • Other novel technologies or battery components

Subtopic 4C: Improve Cell and/or Battery Pack Inactive Component Designs for Significant Cost Improvement. The focus of this subtopic is research, development, and demonstration of technology that reduces the cell or battery inactive component weight, volume, and/or cost by at least 20%. Only a small percentage of a battery’s weight (approximately 25 to 30%) is due to the active materials that store energy.

Performance requirements are critical for commercialization, and applicants shall be able to demonstrate that their technology is capable of achieving them. However, the main focus of work in this area shall be to develop and demonstrate cells with inactive component weight, volume, and/or cost reductions while maintaining overall cell or battery performance.

Subtopic 4D: Improve Cell and/or Battery Pack Thermal Management Approaches. The focus of this subtopic is research, development, and demonstration of technology concepts that reduce the cell or battery weight, complexity (component count), and/or cost by at least 20% through the use of a novel thermal management technology, approach, or system to manage cell of battery temperature.

Approaches that extend the upper or lower operating temperature range of the cell or battery by at least 30% are also of interest. Performance requirements are critical for commercialization, and applicants shall be able to demonstrate that their technology is capable of achieving them. However, the main focus of work in this area shall be to develop and demonstrate cells with validated weight, complexity (component count), and/or cost reductions while maintaining overall cell or battery performance.

AOI 5: Advanced Power Electronics and Electric Motors (APEEM) Technologies

The purpose of this AOI is to develop the next generation of power inverters and electric motors. Both of these technologies must meet demanding performance targets while achieving significant reductions in cost to meet future commercial demands.

Subtopic 5A: Modular, Scalable Inverter for Advanced Electric Drive Vehicle Electric Traction Drives.

Electric Drive Vehicles (EDVs) require advancements in power inverter technology, such as lower cost, weight, and volume to achieve a greater share of the vehicle market. The focus of this subtopic is the development of an inverter that meets efficiency targets and the required inverter cost, weight, volume, and performance targets in the tables below with the added attributes of scalability.

Scalability is important since the proposed solution shall be applicable to power levels ranging from 55 kW to 120 kW.

Click to enlarge.

Subtopic 5B: Motors with Reduced or Eliminated use of Rare Earth Permanent Magnets for Advanced EDV Electric Traction Drives

Smaller, lighter, and less expensive electric motors are critical for the adoption of EDVs in significant quantities, especially for HEV and PHEV applications where motors have to be packaged in a vehicle along with other large powertrain components such as engines and transmissions.

Currently interior permanent magnet (IPM) motors are used for hybrid designs because of their high efficiency, specific-power (kW/kg) and power density (kW/l). However, there are concerns regarding the lack of transparency in the rare earth magnet supply market and its pricing structures, which imply rare earth magnets could be significantly more expensive and possibly not available in quantities appropriate for their use in vehicle traction drives in the future. Because of this, it is desired to pursue motor technologies that significantly reduce/eliminate the use of rare earth permanent magnets.

The goal of this subtopic is to develop and demonstrate a motor capable of achieving the performance requirements as outlined below using technologies that incorporate more abundant magnet materials (no rare earth elements) or motor technologies that do not use permanent magnets at all. The demonstrated motor shall be capable of operating for a minimum of 15 years. The design shall be scalable to 120 kW peak power for 18 seconds and 65 kW continuous power. Maximum speed of the motor shall not exceed 20,000 rpm.

The preferred operating system voltage is 325V nominal. It is highly encouraged that scalability provisions be considered for operating at higher voltage levels.

Click to enlarge.

AOI 6: Thermoelectrics and Enabling Engine Technologies

The goal of this AOI is to achieve improved efficiency and reduced emissions in advanced combustion engines for passenger and commercial vehicle applications through: 1) accelerated development of cost-competitive advanced second generation thermoelectric devices for vehicle applications; and 2) accelerated development of new or early stage enabling technologies needed to improve fuel efficiency, performance, and emissions in internal combustion engines.

Subtopic 6A: Solid State Thermoelectric Energy Conversion Devices.

This subtopic is for research and development projects that use thermoelectric (TE) devices to offer:

  • A 5%percent fuel economy improvement by direct conversion of engine waste heat to useful electric power for light-duty vehicle application;
  • A 2% fuel economy improvement by direct conversion of engine waste heat to useful electricity for heavy-duty application and can provide additional fuel savings by reducing or eliminating the need to idle the engine for hotel loads; or
  • A 33% percent reduction in energy consumption for heating/cooling of vehicle occupants.

For light duty passenger vehicles, the fuel economy improvement must be measured over the US06 cycle. For heavy duty vehicles, the fuel economy improvement must be measured under a load representative of a typical long-haul Class 8 truck with vehicle weight of 65,000 lbs traveling on a level road at 65 mph.

Subtopic 6B: Enabling Technologies for Engine and Powertrain Systems. The objective of this subtopic is to develop advances in enabling technologies for engine and powertrain systems for heavy-duty and light-duty vehicles, from vehicle and engine suppliers to support the achievement of breakthrough thermal efficiencies while meeting US EPA emissions standards for the representative vehicle class technology.

Some of the enabling technologies to be considered include, but are not limited to:

  • Low-cost, robust sensors and controls;
  • Components for waste heat recovery systems such as Organic Rankine Cycle, including heat exchangers, control valves, expanders and working fluids;
  • Advanced components for exhaust gas recirculation systems, including heat exchangers and valves;
  • Variable compression ratio mechanisms;
  • Variable valve actuation and timing mechanisms;
  • Reduced friction approaches;
  • Low heat rejection and thermal management approaches;
  • Advanced fuel injectors;
  • Advanced ignition systems;
  • Intake air management systems; and
  • Turbomachinery.

AOI 7: Fleet Efficiency

The goal of this effort is to develop and demonstrate technologies that will positively affect efficiency of the fleet of passenger cars and commercial vehicles. Specifically, two technical topic areas are being targeted with this Area of Interest: fuel efficient tires and driver feedback technologies.

It is expected that applications in either of these two topics will result in demonstrating technologies with potential to improve overall fleet efficiency by more than 2%.

Area of Interest 8: Advanced Vehicle Testing and Evaluation

The objective of this area of interest is for projects to conduct laboratory and field evaluations of advanced technology vehicles and their associated infrastructure and the development of new test procedures and/or modifications of existing test procedures necessary to accomplish these performance evaluations.

The scope of the work shall include baseline performance, accelerated reliability, and fleet testing of state-of-the- art light-, medium-, and heavy-duty advanced technology vehicles and the required vehicle-to-infrastructure interface required for fueling/charging the vehicles.



At first I viewed this as chicken feed and was irritated at the small amount. Intel spends single digit billions every year in development. Every Year!

Then, I thought, no it's OK. This is money to support universities and research students so that they can learn this area and then go into industry where the heavy lifting will be done.

I'd like to see some US company spend at least this much in one year to develop a battery and ramp production. I wonder what A123 spends per year?


If even one company is created that lasts for decades and employs 1000s, the money can be returned in the form of revenue to the government and prosperity for the people. It also positions this country in the world market and helps create a more sustainable energy future.

I would like to see more done, but when you live in a country where people are told to hate taxes, there is not enough to go around for everything. Venture capital wants companies formed and generating revenue before they are even considered. We need a way to get them there.

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