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DOE to issue FY14 Vehicle Technologies program-wide funding opportunity announcement

The Department Of Energy (DOE), Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) intends to issue, on behalf of its Vehicle Technology Office (VTO), a program-wide Funding Opportunity Announcement (DE-FOA-0000991) for fiscal year 2014 on or about January 2014. The advance notice (DE-FOA-0001053) is to alert interested parties of the coming FOA.

The areas of interest outlined in the notice of intent (NOI) fall into two broad categories: technologies to advance plug-in electric vehicles; and technologies to improve fuel efficiency, including dual-fuel, fuel properties (e.g., high octane fuels), and advanced powertrain work.

VTO supports a broad technology portfolio aimed at developing and deploying advanced highway transportation technologies to reduce petroleum consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, while meeting or exceeding vehicle performance and cost expectations. VTO focuses on a mix of near- and long-term vehicle technologies including advanced batteries, power electronics and electric motors, lightweight and propulsion materials, advanced combustion engines, advanced fuels and lubricants, and other enabling technologies.

Broadly, VTO program activities are focused on achieving:

  • Saving 1.4 million barrels per day of highway petroleum use (12.5%) by 2020 (compared to the Energy Information Agency (EIA) Annual Energy Outlook (AEO) 2012-projected baseline in 2020 of 11.2 million barrels per day); and

  • Developing cost-effective technologies to improve new vehicle fuel efficiency and achieve or exceed corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards of 144 gCO2/mi (61.6 mpg) for cars and 203 gCO2/mi (43.7 mpg) for light trucks by 2025 (54.5 mpg light duty average, or 4.3 l/100 km).

Analysis suggests that VTO’s combined portfolio of technologies could reduce petroleum consumption by nearly 20% from projected 2030 levels in the AEO.

Of particular interest is meeting the goals and objectives of the President Obama’s EV Everywhere Grand Challenge (earlier post) to produce a wide array of plug-in electric vehicles—as well as improvements in other vehicle technologies such as powertrains, fuel, tires, and auxiliary systems. Technical targets for the DOE plug-in vehicle program fall into four areas: battery R&D; electric drive system R&D; vehicle lightweighting; and advanced climate control technologies.

Some specific goals include:

  • Cutting battery costs from their current $500/kWh to $125/kWh
  • Eliminating almost 30% of vehicle weight through lightweighting
  • Reducing the cost of electric drive systems from $30/kW to $8/kW

VTO divided the areas of interest in its upcoming FY 2014 solicitation into two main categories: technologies to meet the EV Everywhere Grand Challenge, and technology to reduce petroleum consumption through fuel efficiency improvements in passenger and commercial vehicles.

Possible areas of interest for the EV Everywhere Grand Challenge include, but are not limited to:

  1. Development of low-cost, high-strength automotive aluminum sheet. The objective of this area of interest is to develop and demonstrate a high-strength aluminum alloy and process yielding a material with Ultimate Tensile Strength in a finished, stamped component of greater than 600 MPa with greater than 8% elongation to failure; processing temperature of no greater than 225 °C; with the cost of a finished, stamped component of no greater than $2 per pound of weight saved when compared to a comparable, baseline part.

  2. Integrated computational materials engineering (ICME) development of carbon fiber composites for lightweight vehicles. The objective of this area of interest is simultaneously to develop and to demonstrate structural carbon fiber technology that supports immediate weight reduction in passenger vehicles while also advancing ICME techniques to support a reduced development-to-deployment lead time in all lightweight materials systems. The target for reducing weight in the body is ≥35% at ≤$2.01/lb saved; with ≥25% weight reduction at ≤$1.97/lb saved for the chassis.

  3. Beyond Li-on. The objective of this area of interest is to conduct focused fundamental research and development on issues impeding the commercialization of the next-generation, high-performance energy storage device. While lithium-ion batteries are the leading technology today, the effort will be focused on electrochemical couples utilizing a negative electrode (anode) material that does not involve an intercalation host for lithium ions and a positive electrode (cathode) material that has high capacity such as sulfur or air in order to significantly reduce cost and improve energy density.

  4. Commercialization of power electronics for electric traction drives using wideband gap (WBG) semiconductors. The objective of this area of interest is to develop and demonstrate WBG semiconductors to reduce cost and improve performance. The applications will be required to identify approaches to overcoming barriers to market introduction of WBG switches for vehicle power electronics components such as, but not limited to, inverters, converters, and/or chargers while achieving power electronics targets and requirements of $3.3/kW, specific power of 14.1 kW/kg, power density of 13. 4 kW/l, and >94% efficiency. The projects must utilize WBG switches to demonstrate their inherent benefits while providing needed application-level performance, durability, and cost data.

  5. Tire efficiency. The objective of this area of interest is to develop and demonstrate technologies that enable reduction of fuel consumption of legacy fleet of passenger cars and commercial vehicles through tire technology. Applications will be required to target improved materials, tread designs, weight reduction, pressure maintenance technologies, and other approaches that improve tire efficiency resulting in vehicle demonstrations of fuel consumption reduction by at least 4% compared to the state-of-the-art, while maintaining traction and wear characteristics of the tire.

  6. Multi-speed gearbox. Current fleet owners of all-electric medium-duty trucks have experienced performance, range, and efficiency shortcomings that are highly dependent upon the application in which the truck is used. The objective of this area of interest is to develop and demonstrate multi-speed transmissions that will improve the utility of these vehicles across a variety of vehicle operational scenarios.

  7. Advanced climate control auxiliary load reduction. Heating, cooling, and other thermal management loads significantly reduce the practical driving range of plug-in electric vehicles. The objective of this area of interest is to develop and demonstrate novel solutions to provide passenger comfort while reducing the impact on the vehicle energy storage system.

Possible areas of interest for technology to improve fuel efficiency include:

  1. Development of high-performance low-temperature catalysts for exhaust aftertreatment. The objective of this area of interest is to develop and demonstrate new catalysts aftertreatment systems. These new exhaust aftertreatment technologies and catalysts must have light off temperatures at a minimum of 150 °C and conversion efficiencies of at least 90%. Key emissions of interest are Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx), non-methane organic gasses (NMOG), Hydrocarbons (HC), carbon monoxide (CO), and particulate matter (PM).

  2. Dual-fuel technologies. The objective of this topic area is to develop dual-fuel technologies that will achieve at least a 50% reduction in petroleum usage through a combination of petroleum displacement and improved efficiency. Projects must develop and demonstrate dual fuel concepts for advanced spark-ignition and/or compression-ignition combustion engines for light-duty passenger car applications that: (i) increase engine efficiency by exploiting the fuel properties; (ii) displace/reduce petroleum usage; (iii) enable use of existing emissions controls; (iv) meet all emissions and onboard diagnostic requirements; and (v) enable the engine to switch between operation on 100% gasoline or diesel fuel, 100% other fuel, or a combination of both without having to refuel.

  3. Fuel property impacts on combustion. Fuel properties, such as octane and cetane, have been widely discussed in recent years as potential design variables for future mainstream vehicles. The objective of this area of interest is to develop advanced fuel concepts that will achieve at least a 25% reduction in petroleum usage through enabling optimal performance of advanced spark-ignition and/or compression-ignition combustion engines for light-, medium-, and heavy-duty vehicle applications.

  4. Powertrain friction and wear reduction. This area of interest will have two subtopics each of which will stand alone as a separate topic area.

    The low-friction technology subtopic is to develop friction and wear reduction technologies for light-, medium-, or heavy-duty vehicles that improve fuel efficiency of legacy vehicles by at least 2%, and/or improve fuel efficiency of future vehicles by at least 4%.

    The friction and wear characterization and measurement subtopic is to develop empirical characterizations of friction and wear mechanisms in internal combustion engines and methods to predict the impact of such mechanisms on full-engine or full-vehicle fuel economy. Projects will be required to develop accurate and reliable correlations between friction and wear performance data (and mechanisms) obtained from a select set of bench top tests and performance in actual vehicles.

  5. Advanced technology powertrain 2 (ATP2). The objective of this area of interest is to develop and demonstrate cost-competitive engine and powertrain systems for light-duty vehicles capable of attaining breakthrough thermal efficiencies. Development of the engine and powertrain system can include improvements to in-cylinder combustion, engine mechanics, waste heat recovery, friction reduction, emission control, fuels, materials, electrification, and reduced ancillary load requirements.

    The engine system can be designed to accommodate a hybrid system, continuously variable transmission (CVT) or other advanced transmission. Proposing teams must achieve at least a 35% fuel economy improvement for gasoline-fueled vehicles and at least 50% fuel economy improvement for diesel-fueled vehicles while meeting future emissions standards.

  6. Early market commercialization opportunities. The objective of this area of interest is to support the development, demonstration and commercialization of new or improved vehicle systems which increase the overall energy efficiency of vehicles, target reductions in petroleum consumption, and which can be developed for near-term market deployment/commercialization opportunities.



Over a dozen excellent objectives that the 20+ major vehicle and battery manufacturers should be mandated to do for their customers without government direct subsidies or bail outs.

Governments should set the standards and time frames. Offer bonus and malus ONLY to those who go faster or slower than the established mandates.

Bonus-Malus could be applied as variable negative and positive Federal sale taxes. They could be (overall) budget neutral.

Otherwise, manufacturers will lose most of the will to do better.

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