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DOE to award more than $50M for new plug-in vehicle technology research projects

The US DOE has released the final version of a new funding opportunity announcement (DE-FOA-0000793) that will award more than $50 million in funding for new projects intended to accelerate the development of advanced plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) technologies to increase vehicle fuel economy and improve performance. DOE had earlier requested public comment on a draft of the solicitation. (Earlier post.) The FOA supports the President’s EV Everywhere Grand Challenge. (Earlier post.)

DOE will select new research projects—an anticipated minimum of 30 and maximum of 50—that focus on lowering the cost and increasing the efficiency of PEV components, as well as the development of models and tools to predict these vehicles' performance and help improve fuel economy. The Department will fund projects across five major areas of research and development that cover 12 areas of interest (AOIs), including:

  • Advanced lightweighting and propulsion materials: Advanced materials are essential to reducing vehicle weight while maintaining performance and safety, especially in PEVs. Projects selected in this area will contribute to research in cast magnesium alloys, high-strength steel, and dissimilar material joining.

  • Advanced battery development: Advances in battery technology can result in less expensive, more efficient batteries that can enable greater all-electric range. Projects selected in this area will improve cell chemistry, composition, and processing; contribute to battery modeling; or develop advanced electrolytes for next generation lithium-ion cells.

  • Power electronics: Improving power electronics can lower the cost, improve the efficiency, and decrease the weight of electric traction systems in PEVs. Projects selected in this area will develop lower-cost inverters and capacitors that are capable of withstanding much higher temperatures than current technology and can be commercially manufactured.

  • Advanced heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems: Auxiliary loads like heating and cooling have a greater impact on the efficiency of PEVs than conventional vehicles. High efficiency heating and cooling systems can significantly increase all-electric driving range while providing a comfortable temperature for passengers. Projects selected in this area will develop and demonstrate technologies to reduce these auxiliary loads.

  • Fuels and lubricants: Fuels and lubricants can increase the efficiency of both future vehicles and those already on the road. Projects selected in this area are expected to improve the fuel efficiency of light-, medium- and heavy-duty vehicles.

Through the Advanced Vehicle Power Technology Alliance between the Department of Energy and the Department of the Army, the Army is contributing $3.5 million co-funding in several areas where there are joint development opportunities.

The final AOIs are mainly the same as in the draft (as listed in the earlier post), with the exception of changes to AOI 11 (Advanced Climate Control Auxiliary Load Reduction); and the addition of the twelfth AOI: Advanced, Integrated, Modular, and Scalable Wide Bandgap (WBG) Inverter R&D for Electric Traction Drive Vehicles.

AOI 12 – Advanced, Integrated, Modular, and Scalable Wide Bandgap (WBG) Inverter R&D for Electric Traction Drive Vehicles. The purpose of this AOI is to perform research and develop next generation WBG power inverters to meet demanding electric vehicle performance requirements and targets while achieving significant cost reductions.

The focus of this AOI is the inverter for the traction drive system, and does not include the motor, DC-DC converter, or energy storage. Electric drive vehicles 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 AOI is the development of a WBG inverter to accelerate the implementation of WBG devices (i.e. SiC and/or GaN) that meet specified efficiency targets and the required inverter cost, weight, volume, and performance targets, with the added attributes and requirements of modularity and scalability.


Henry Gibson

The durathon and zebra batteries are more than adequate for most present automotive uses, and even advanced lead batteries can do a majority of the excursions. The sodium nickel units should be quickly modified to fit into a very well known new aircraft. They also can be modified for higher power with technology known to locomotive builders nearly two hundred years ago. Their cost must be reduced by very large volume mass production as the materials are not very costly.

If switched reluctance motors can be made for cleaning blowers and washing machines, and are also the lowest weight, most efficient motors with simple power switches, they can be used in automobiles as well. ..HG..


I think small battery PHEVs are the way to go, like the Prius PHEV. 20 miles should be enough to reduce fuel consumption by 50-70% depending on run lengths.
The trick is to make sure that you can recharge at work (assuming your journey is > 10 miles).
This should require a 5-6 KwH battery which should not be too expensive, heavy or bulky.
As people start to purchase them and manufacturers get better at building them, the price will decline.

Building a long range BEV is a fools game at present, there will always be a trip that is longer than your battery, or you will reach a destination without a fast charger and a 60 KwH battery to recharge.

So small battery PHEVs get my vote.


Li ion will win out on performance and cost over all other battery technologies. It is still in the early commercialization stages yet. A normal commercialization curve prediction tells us that eventually Li ion will be cheaper than lead acid on a cost per energy equivolent. BEVs are already on the market and provide many comsumers with total cost of ownership benefits. Fools drive pickup trucks as commuters. Dual systems electric/ICE will never be the low cost option. But then, if you want to peel lots of money out of the consumers wallet that's what you promote.

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