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DOE to award $49.4M for advanced vehicle technologies research; meeting Tier 3 emissions

The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award $49.4 million to projects to to accelerate research and development of new vehicle technologies. The new program-wide funding opportunity (DE-FOA-0000991) (earlier post), was announced by Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz at the Washington Auto Show.

The funding opportunity will contains a total of 13 areas of interest in the general areas of advanced light-weighting; advanced battery development; power electronics; advanced heating, ventilation, air conditioning systems; advanced powertrains (including the ability to meet proposed EPA Tier 3 tailpipe emissions standards); and fuels and lubricants. These areas of interest apply to light, medium and heavy duty on-road vehicles.

Areas of interest. *One or more projects awarded may be managed collaboratively with U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC). Click to enlarge.

Area Of Interest (AOI) 1: Development of Low-Cost, High-Strength Automotive Aluminum Sheet. Approximate federal total for all awards: $2.5M. This AOI is to address two major technical gaps in the performance of automotive aluminum alloys:

  1. Low strength among cost competitive automotive sheet alloys such as 5xxx and 6xxx series.

  2. High cost of high-strength aluminum alloys such as high performance 6xxx and 7xxx series.

While aerospace alloys such as most 7xxx series alloys exhibit exceptional strength, the alloy and processing costs are not suitable for the automotive industry. Aluminum sheet alloys from 5xxx and 6xxx series are finding increased use in vehicle structures; however the maximum available strength from these alloys limits their applications on the vehicle.

Vehicle components requiring ultra-high strength such as the B-pillar or rocker/sill must often use high strength steel which limits total vehicle weight reduction. Further, when high strength steel must be used to meet the strength requirements for a particular component, adjacent components are often made of steel as well to avoid a need for dissimilar-metal joining. Introducing a high-strength, low cost aluminum alloy would have the dual benefit of reducing weight in crash-critical structures while also enabling further aluminum implementation and attending weight reduction.

This AOI seeks applications to support high-strength aluminum alloy and process development meeting the following requirements:

  • 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; and

  • Cost of a finished, stamped component of no greater than $2 per pound of weight saved when compared to a comparable, baseline part.

AOI 2: Integrated Computational Materials Engineering (ICME) Development of Carbon Fiber Composites for Lightweight Vehicles. ($6M) The objective of this AOI is simultaneously to develop structural carbon fiber technology to support immediate weight reduction in light-duty vehicles while also advancing Integrated Computational Materials Engineering (ICME) techniques to support a reduced development-to-deployment lead time in all lightweight materials systems.

For the purposes of this AOI, a carbon fiber composite is defined as a composite that combines carbon fiber with polymer resin. The fibers can be continuous or discontinuous and the resin can be either a thermoplastic or thermoset polymer.

Applications have to focus on a “foundational engineering problem” (FEP) approach to using ICME techniques for the cost-effective reduction of vehicle weight through the development and application of carbon fiber composites. Applications need to use an integrated approach to design, develop, and optimize an assembly consisting of what would have been at least four light duty vehicle components made from traditional metals.

With the exception of fasteners and adhesives (no more than 5% of baseline system weight), all components shall be constructed of carbon fiber composites.

Carbon Fiber Composite Targets
Vehicle system System definition Weight reduction target (vs. 2006 or later vehicle) Cost per pound weight saved Additional requirements
Body Body-in-white, closures, windows, fenders, & bumpers ≥ 35% ≤ $4.32/lb Replacement technology must achieve function and packaging requirements of technology to be replaced.
Chassis Suspension, steering, wheels, & underbody structural components ≥ 25% ≤ $4.27/lb

AOI 3: Beyond Lithium Ion Technologies. ($8M) One or more projects selected under this AOI may be collaboratively funded and managed by the US Department of Energy and the US Army. The purpose of this AOI is to solicit applications to perform focused fundamental R&D on issues impeding the commercialization of technologies beyond lithium-ion—for example, referring to batteries that at the anode do not involve an intercalation host for lithium ions and are coupled at the cathode with a low cost and high capacity electrode material.

Such technologies, although theoretically promising, face significant hurdles in reaching practically acceptable thresholds in such areas as cycle life and other performance measures. Sample topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Lithium metal protection;

  • Improved lithium-ion conductors for solid-state and/or liquid cells;

  • Determination through modeling the optimum of Li2S solubility and identification of electrolytes that satisfy this requirement;

  • Developing electrolytes that enable solubility of insoluble products, decrease solubility of highly soluble species, and/or prevent dendrite formation;

  • Developing tools to investigate speciation and reaction kinetics in the sulfur electrode with the aim of controlling the spatial and temporal distribution of solid and liquid species;

  • Ensuring adequate ionic and electronic conduction in solid-state cathodes; and

  • Addressing poor reversibility and large voltage hysteresis of the air electrode.

AOI 4: Commercialization of Vehicle Power Electronics Using Wide Bandgap (WBG) Semiconductors. ($3M) One or more projects selected under this AOI may be collaboratively funded and managed by the US Department of Energy and the US Army. Wide bandgap (WBG) semiconductors such as silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN) offer opportunities to advance the performance and reduce the cost of vehicle power electronics with improved properties compared to current silicon (Si) semiconductors. This includes higher junction temperature capabilities, faster switching frequencies, higher voltages, and lower power losses.

At the vehicle level, this results in a reduced thermal burden on the cooling system; simplification of the cooling system hardware; and reduced volume and lower weight for the motor inverter, power converter and associated cooling components. However, barriers to the adoption of these devices in vehicle applications persist, and can include their cost premium, long term reliability concerns, and component packaging and integration concerns such as gate drives, thermal management, and lower system inductance.

The development of less-expensive, more-efficient, smaller, and lighter power electronics and electric machines for electric traction, power generation, and accessory drive systems is necessary to reduce the cost and improve the performance of electric drive vehicles. WBG power semiconductor switches represent a potential pathway to achieving DOE targets for improved, low-cost power electronics, but the barriers to market adoption must be addressed.

The goal of this topic is to accelerate market introduction of vehicle electric drive systems utilizing WBG semiconductors with emphasis on market introduction of the proposed component(s) and vehicles.

Applications are to organize tasks and schedule into two Phases. Phase 1 for technology design and development should include, at a minimum: defining specifications; establishing a commercially existing silicon-based approach; delivering bench test results; and presenting a commercialization plan that includes a confirmed vehicle WBG based application from a vehicle OEM. Phase 2 integration and vehicle validation should include, at a minimum, a full test plan that demonstrates WBG based component performance in the intended or representative vehicle application.

Each phase shall be at least 12 months but no more than 24 months in length. The total project should not exceed 36 months in duration.

AOI 5: Tire Efficiency. ($1.9M) One or more projects selected under this AOI may be collaboratively funded and managed by the US Department of Energy and the US Army. The goal of this topic is to develop technologies that enable reduction of fuel consumption of legacy fleet of passenger cars and commercial vehicles through tire technology development.

Successful projects in this area will target improved materials, tread designs, weight reduction, pressure maintenance technologies, and other approaches that improve tire efficiency and will culminate 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.

The technical metric most commonly associated with effect of tires on fuel consumption is rolling resistance. All means of reducing rolling resistance will be considered, including but not limited to innovative tire materials, tire design and construction, tread configuration, and proper tire pressure maintenance.

Rolling resistance cannot be improved in isolation from other tire design goals, especially wear and traction. Therefore, any proposed rolling resistance reduction projects should not have a significant negative effect on other tire parameters. All proposed technologies must also satisfy relevant federal regulations related to tires and be able to meet applicable federal tests. A proposed technology should maintain an advantage over baseline tires throughout the expected life of improved and baseline tires. Additionally, it is preferred that a proposed technology is able to survive the retread process.

AOI 6: Multi-Speed Gearbox for Commercial Delivery Medium0-Duty Plug-In Electric Drive Vehicles. ($3M) One or more projects selected under this AOI may be collaboratively funded and managed by the US Department of Energy and the US Army. The objective of this AOI is to develop and demonstrate an advanced multi-speed gearbox that replaces a single speed gearbox in a baseline Commercial Delivery Medium-Duty Plug-in Electric Drive Vehicle (MD PEDV), demonstrate improved drivability and fuel efficiency, and improve the market penetration of the MD PEDV.

The proposed project is to modify the proposed baseline vehicle by replacing the single speed gearbox with an advanced multi-speed gearbox and demonstrate improved drivability and fuel efficiency of the MD PEDV. The baseline vehicle should be designed for the Commercial Delivery market and have a single speed transmission. Other Medium- and Heavy-Duty market applications will be considered if the market application can provide an equivalent or greater reduction in petroleum consumption.

Baseline EDV top speed is approximately 50 mph (80 km/h) and has limited acceleration at speeds above 30 mph (48 km/h). The medium-duty PEDV resulting from this project should have a top speed of at least 65 mph and be capable of strong acceleration at speeds above 35 mph and on highway entry ramps. In addition to high performance capabilities, the use of the proposed multi-speed advanced gearbox should result in higher overall vehicle efficiencies and the ability to utilize a down-sized traction battery while meeting range and other performance requirements.

AOI 7: Advanced Climate Control Auxiliary Load Reduction. ($5M) One or more projects selected under this AOI may be collaboratively funded and managed by the US Department of Energy and the US Army. The objective of projects proposed under this AOI shall be to develop and demonstrate strategies that employ advanced technologies to significantly reduce the auxiliary loads that support passenger comfort and window defrost/defog for grid-connected electric drive vehicles (GCEDVs).

The focus of the projects shall be on developing solutions for application in light-duty GCEDVs, with the potential for these technologies to also be used in hybrid-electric and conventional light-duty vehicles as well as medium- and heavy-duty vehicles.

The technical strategies—including thermal load reduction; advanced HVAC; and cabin preconditioning—are focused on using less energy from the energy storage system (ESS) when the vehicle is in operation. This will allow for longer range or less range loss under certain environmental conditions.

Applications need to address at least one or more of the following specific technical strategies: energy load reduction and energy management; advanced HVAC technologies; and/or cabin preconditioning.

AOI 8: Development of High-Performance Low-Temperature Catalysts for Exhaust Aftertreatment. ($3M) The objective of this Area of Interest is to accelerate the development and deployment of new catalyst aftertreatment systems based on the most promising developments in basic catalyst research. These new exhaust aftertreatment technologies and catalysts must have light off temperatures of 150 °C and conversion efficiencies near 90%, to fully meet topic objectives.

Key emissions of interest in order of importance are NOx, non-methane organic gasses and Hydrocarbons (NMOG & HC), and particulate matter (PM).

Applications are to address all of the following aspects:

  • Catalyst development and performance demonstration;
  • Prototype aftertreatment system development, demonstration and evaluation;
  • Evaluation of existing Computational Models; and the
  • Cost Model of catalyst system.

AOI 9: Dual-Fuel Technologies. ($1M) The objective of this AOI is to develop and demonstrate dual-fuel technologies that will achieve at least a 50% reduction in petroleum usage through a combination of petroleum displacement and improved efficiency. Improved efficiency is enabled through improved performance of advanced spark-ignition and/or compression-ignition combustion engines for light-, medium-, or heavy-duty vehicle applications. Proposed concepts must include demonstration of the technology up through at least single-cylinder engine testing.

Dual-fuel concepts are sought for on-road light-, medium- and heavy-duty passenger car applications that:

  • Increase engine efficiency by exploiting the fuel properties;

  • Have the capability and suitability for retrofit into the existing fleet and/or incorporation into current production models;

  • Displace/reduce petroleum usage by at least 50%;

  • Enable use of existing emissions controls in standard configurations and capacities;

  • Meet all emissions and onboard diagnostic requirements; and

  • Where the engine can, switch between operation on 100% gasoline or diesel fuel, 100% other fuel, and a combination of both without having to refuel.

Applications need to demonstrate that the proposed concept improves the thermal efficiency of the engine beyond the baseline fuel (gasoline or diesel) through a combined use of both fuels. The application shall demonstrate that the cost of retrofitting or additional production costs must be recoverable by fuel savings within 36 months of typical vehicle operation.

AOI 10: Fuel Property Impacts on Combustion. ($1M) The objective of this AOI 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. Proposed concepts must include demonstration of the technology up through at least single-cylinder engine testing.

Fuel properties, such as octane and cetane, have been widely discussed in recent years as potential design variables for future mainstream vehicles. Applications are sought for innovative and cost-effective approaches to exploiting fuel properties to enable or enhance efficient combustion in reciprocating internal combustion engines.

Proposed work should be for fuel-focused research for the facilitation or enhancement of advanced combustion regime engine operation – i.e., ultra-clean and highly-efficient, liquid- fueled combustion engines. Such concepts:

  • May incorporate novel thermodynamic cycles, but should not simply involve a recycling of existing concepts (e.g., Miller Cycle);

  • Should have extremely low engine-out NOx and PM as a target; and

  • Should have efficiency at least as high as 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).

Additionally, applications must demonstrate that the proposed concept/technology meets the following criteria:

  • Required unconventional fuel or fuel components must be able to be cost-effectively produced at greater than 10,000 gallons per year in the next 5 years;

  • Proposed concepts must use only commercially available and widely applied emission control devices and not depend on the use of non-standard emissions control devices or increased capacity of standard devices;

  • Proposed concepts must meet all emissions and onboard diagnostic requirements;

  • Proposed technologies must be able to be retrofitted into existing on-road vehicles or incorporated into current production models and demonstrate at least a 25% reduction in petroleum consumed; and

  • The cost of retrofitting or additional production costs must be shown to be recoverable by fuel savings within 36 months of typical vehicle operation.

AOI 11: Powertrain Friction and Wear Reduction. ($2M) One or more projects selected under this AOI may be collaboratively funded and managed by the US Department of Energy and the US Army. This AOI is composed of two separate subtopics: Technology Development to Improve Fuel Efficiency Through Friction Reduction; and Identification and Quantification of Friction Losses along with Methods to Measure and Predict Fuel Economy Gains in Full Engine and/or Vehicles.

The objective of the first subtopic is to develop and demonstrate 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% (improvement based on comparative results from engine dynamometer, chassis dynamometer testing, or test track, e.g., SAE J1321) without adverse impacts on vehicle performance or durability.

The objective of the second 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. This is to include technologies that can reliably use a defined set of protocols and experimental results from lower-cost bench top friction and wear devices and reliability predict the friction and wear performance of actual powertrain and drivetrain components and lubricants under actual operating conditions.

Successful projects in this topic will be able 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. Such a correlation will provide the ability to evaluate advanced technologies to reduce parasitic losses in vehicles in terms of their performance and mechanisms more quickly and more economically than full engine or vehicle tests.

AOI 12: Advanced Technology Powertrains For Light-Duty Vehicles Phase 2 (ATP-2). ($10M) The objective of this AOI is to accelerate the development of cost-competitive engine and powertrain systems for light-duty vehicles that attain breakthrough thermal efficiencies while meeting future emissions standards.

Vehicle-level goals are to improve fuel economy by 35% for gasoline and by 50% for diesel, compared to a baseline 2009 gasoline vehicle. Development of the engine and powertrain system shall also include 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 transmissions. The projects will be structured with well- defined phase gates and associated technical milestones.

Vehicle-level efficiency goals
Demonstration type Efficiency Emissions Conditions
Modeling and/or analysis ≥ 35% Fuel Economy Improvement - Gasoline Engine EPA Tier 3 Type: On Road representative
Profile: City Federal Test Procedure (FTP) and Highway fuel economy cycles (unadjusted, weighted 55% and 45% to give a “combined” fuel economy number) Test cycles and measurement procedures per CFR 40, Part 600
≥ 50% Fuel Economy Improvement - Diesel Engine
Full-scale Vehicle ≥ 35% Fuel Economy Improvement - Gasoline Engine EPA Tier 3 Type: On Road
Profile: City FTP and Highway fuel economy cycles (unadjusted, weighted 55% and 45% to give a “combined” fuel economy number) Test cycles and measurement procedures per CFR 40, Part 600, US06 cycle
≥ 50% Fuel Economy Improvement - Diesel Engine

Over the three (3)-to-five (5) year period of this activity, the selected participants will develop, test and eventually demonstrate these advanced technologies and the associated efficiency gains on a powertrain dynamometer and finally on a full-scale vehicle.

Emissions will be measured to show compliance. Technologies that are compatible with or can support future fuels and are adaptable to bio-fuels with relatively minor modifications will be taken into consideration during the comprehensive merit evaluation process.

Achievement of the stated fuel economy goals may require improvements to the entire powertrain system although engine system efficiency improvements must play a significant role in this effort. The engine system may be designed to accommodate a hybrid system, CVT or other advanced transmission, however, the development of these technologies will not be cooperatively funded by the DOE.

For an engine used in a hybrid vehicle application, the stated fuel economy improvements shall result from improvements only to the engine system efficiency when compared to the base-line hybrid vehicle.

In addition to the demonstration of vehicle-level goals, attainment of specific engine-level efficiencies shall also be demonstrated. The engine shall be tested before vehicle integration to support analysis that vehicle fuel economy improvements can be achieved. Successful results on this engine-level analysis shall be a necessary prerequisite for the project to advance to the vehicle integration phase.

The engine efficiency test points need to include the following required speed and load conditions:

  • 2-bar Brake Mean Effective Pressure (BMEP) and 2000 rpm;
  • 20% of peak load and 2000 rpm; and
  • Peak engine efficiency point.
Modeled efficiency improvements required to meet fuel economy goals
  2010 Baselines 2020 Stretch Goals
  Peak efficiency Efficiency at 2bar BMEP, 2000 rpm Efficiency at 2000 rpm and 20% of peak load 2000 rpm peak load Peak efficiency Efficiency at 2bar BMEP, 2000 rpm Efficiency at 2000 rpm and 20% of peak load
Gasoline 38 25 24 9.3 46 30 29
Gasoline 36 24 24 10.9 43 29 29
Gasoline 36 22 29 19 43 26 35
Diesel 42 26 34 22 50 31 41
Green Highlighted cell represents most relevant operating point for that technology pathway.

The engine technology must be coupled with an aftertreatment system that will meet proposed EPA Tier 3 Motor Vehicle Emission and Fuel Standards (earlier post) utilizing fuels that will be in effect at the point of introduction.

The most stringent emissions requirements include NMOG + NOx levels not to exceed 30mg/mi, CO less than 2.1 g/mi, and particulate matter under 3mg/mi. For the purpose of this solicitation, applications must include an aftertreatment approach that will satisfy Tier 3 emission standards and can be demonstrated by the end of the project timeline.

AOI 13: Early Market Commercialization Opportunities. ($3M) One or more projects selected under this AOI may be collaboratively funded and managed by the Department of Energy and the Army. The objective of this AOI 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.

Any new or significantly improved vehicle system or technology (including, but not limited to propulsion system architectures and subsystems) applied to at least a single vehicle type (including highway rated, non-highway and off-highway vehicles such as construction, agriculture, or military vehicles) is a candidate for this topic if it is expected to increase the overall energy efficiency and/or decrease the petroleum consumption of host vehicles. The host vehicle is the vehicle in which the technology is to be incorporated. Proposed new technologies may be newly developed technologies, new combinations of existing off-the-shelf technologies, or any combination.

Standard laboratory test cycles and measurement techniques will be the basis for evaluating the energy efficiency improvement due to the newly developed technology for this topic, where appropriate. Otherwise, estimates will be made using a combination of standard test cycle test results and/or good engineering judgment related to the improved efficiency, projected duty cycles, and their nationwide applicability and impact. Vehicles employing the new technologies must continue to meet or exceed all applicable safety, emission, and other existing vehicle requirements/standards.

Applications must include:

  • A plan for market entry of an innovative technology, or innovative combination of technologies into a market segment;

  • A detailed analysis of the expected speed of adoption and time to market per vehicle type;

  • A detailed analysis of the expected manufacturing cost and complexity per vehicle type;

  • A detailed analysis of the expected energy saving potential per vehicle type;

  • An analysis of host vehicles which demonstrates compliance with emissions, safety, or other existing vehicle requirements;

  • Detailed plans for the development and demonstration of the efficient vehicle system(s) on at least a single vehicle type;

  • An explanation of how widely the technology can ultimately apply across the domestic vehicle fleet segment(s) (all applicable vehicle types); and

  • An explanation of how the technology can migrate to other vehicle types to achieve maximum benefit.


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