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DOE to award $55.8M for advanced vehicle technologies; $35M for fuel cell and hydrogen

US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced a new Vehicle Technologie program-wide funding opportunity (DE-FOA-0001201) for $55.8 million. DOE also announced up to $35 million to advance fuel cell and hydrogen technologies, including enabling the early adoption of fuel cell applications, such as light duty fuel cell electric vehicles. This new funding opportunity announcement will be available in early February.

The Vehicle Technologies funding is targeted at a wide range of research, development, and demonstration projects that aim to reduce the price and improve the efficiency of plug-in electric, alternative fuel, and conventional vehicles. Topics addressed include: advanced batteries (including manufacturing processes) and electric drive R&D; Lightweight materials; Advanced combustion engine and enabling technologies R&D; and Fuels technologies (dedicated or dual-fuel natural gas engine technologies).

The DOE anticipates making awards that range from $350,000 to $4,500,000, with a 24- to 48-month project duration.

The new FOA supports the President’s EV Everywhere Grand Challenge, which seeks to make the United States the first country to produce a wide array of plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) models (including plug-in hybrids and all-electric vehicles) by 2022 that are as affordable and convenient as current gasoline powered vehicles we drive today. Specific goals include the following:

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

In addition to vehicle electrification and lightweighting technologies, the FOA supports technology development to reduce petroleum consumption through fuel economy improvements. The FOA contains a total of 9 Areas of Interest (AOIs).

Area of Interest (AOI) 1: Wide Bandgap (WBG) Power Module R&D – Integrated Power Modules. The objective of this AOI is to develop and demonstrate power modules and production processes that incorporate WBG devices, exclusively or in conjunction with other power semiconductors, into electric drive vehicle inverter designs. The packaging of power semiconductors into power modules may include other supporting inverter subcomponents, and should include the elimination of wire bonds.

The resulting technology will represent at least one application-specific vehicle inverter, demonstrate increased performance over the baseline inverter technology, and be capable of achieving the following targets:

AOI 1 Technical Targets
Cost Specific Power Power Density
$3.3/kilowatt (kW) 14.1 kW/kilogram 13.4 kW/Liter

Area of Interest (AOI) 2: Ultra-Light Door Design, Manufacturing and Demonstration. This AOI seeks to use the driver’s-side front door as a demonstration platform for full-system weight reduction of complex automotive structures.

Applications to this AOI must address the following goals:

  • Designing, building, and testing a complete driver’s side front door (“light door”) including all trim features, glazings, and other baseline features while weighing at least 42.5% less than a baseline structure.

  • Demonstrating via physical testing (to be complemented with modeling as appropriate) that the light door meets or exceeds baseline door performance.

  • Demonstrating via cost modeling that the door achieves the indicated weight reduction for less than $5 per pound of weight saved.

Area of Interest (AOI) 3: Body-in-White Joining of Carbon Fiber Composites to Lightweight Metals (Aluminum, Advanced High Strength Steel, or Magnesium) at Prototype Scale for High-Volume Manufacturing. The objective of this AOI is to develop and demonstrate the capability of multi-material joining techniques for joining carbon fiber (CF) composites to structural light weight metals (Aluminum, Advanced High Strength Steel, or Magnesium) on light-duty, medium-duty or heavy-duty vehicle body-in-white (BIW) joints.

In addition to applying and validating new techniques at a production-relevant scale, this AOI seeks applications that include rigorous development of joining process-structure models and characterization of joints at a quality suitable for publication in peer-reviewed journals.

Applications under this AOI must employ multi-material joining techniques that have been demonstrated at coupon-scale or for non-BIW applications. The techniques should have been well characterized and understood in prior work with the technical challenges associated with body-in-white joining clearly explained in the application.

Area of Interest (AOI) 4: Advances in Existing and Next-Generation Battery Material Manufacturing Processes. Overcoming the key barriers in battery material manufacturing processes cannot be achieved solely by adopting new materials, or by completely new battery chemistries, DOE said. The component materials must be capable of being manufactured at a lower cost and with a smaller environmental footprint when compared to present technologies. They should also provide improved control of stoichiometry, morphology, compositional heterogeneity, and impurity level and nature.

The objective of this AOI is to develop innovative improvements to manufacturing processes for battery materials. Applications submitted under this AOI must present a manufacturing approach to a battery material that is a significant improvement to an existing approach and has a rational path to both cost savings and improved materials production.

Area of Interest (AOI) 5: Advances in Electrode and Cell Fabrication Manufacturing. The total cost of battery manufacturing must be lowered by materials production advances and by advances in the production of electrode laminates and battery cells. In addition to cost savings, novel electrode production technologies may lead to better performing, longer-lasting, and more reproducible battery electrodes, while simultaneously reducing the environmental footprint of the production facility.

Applications to this AOI must propose a manufacturing approach to either electrodes or cells that shows major cost savings and improved performance and that can be incorporated into a battery manufacturing plant.

Area of Interest (AOI) 6: Electric Drive Vehicular Battery Modeling for Commercially Available Software. The Computer Aided Engineering for Electric Drive Batteries (CAEBAT) activity was initiated by the Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) to create battery simulation suites/tools that enable acceleration of the design cycle as well as battery (cells and packs) performance and cost optimization.

The objective of this AOI is to expand upon the current state of electric drive vehicular battery modeling by developing and validating new advanced computational models. Specific technical interests for applications under this AOI include but are not limited to:

  • Significantly improving the computation efficiency of current electrochemical and thermally coupled material, cell, module and battery pack models.

  • Developing models capable of predicting the combined structural, electrical, and thermal responses to abusive conditions such as crash-induced-crush, overcharge/overdischarge, thermal ramp, and short circuits.

  • Developing a simulation model database of commercially available cells to enable wider evaluation and adoption of computer aided engineering tools for the design of battery packs and cells. It is envisioned that battery developers will construct, or be a part of a team that constructs, battery models for each of their commercially available cells. Battery models for this technical AOI will be made freely available to the public for battery pack design and analysis.

  • Developing microstructural models as a tool to design battery electrodes through a better understanding of the basic physics occurring at the particle and electrode level. DOE envisions that this effort would require the use of supercomputers and simulations and would be carried out using geometrically accurate models of particles (morphology and particle size distribution) as well as binders and conductivity enhancers.

Area of Interest (AOI) 7: Enabling Technologies for Heavy-Duty Vehicles. DOE has established 55% engine efficiency as a stretch goal for heavy duty engines with a plan to meet this goal by 2020. The objective of this AOI is to research, develop, and demonstrate cost-competitive enabling technologies for Class 8 truck engine systems that can enable the achievement of breakthrough Brake Thermal Efficiency (BTE) using EPA certified diesel fuels while meeting the latest emission standards.

Increased efficiency may be achieved using one or more proposed enabling technologies on a baseline engine. Examples of some of the enabling technologies that could be considered are listed below but not limited to the following:

  • technologies capable of modifying in-cylinder charge motion;
  • new advanced combustion regimes;
  • waste heat recovery devices and systems;
  • variable valve actuation and timing mechanisms;
  • lightweight components; reduced friction approaches;
  • low heat rejection and thermal management approaches;
  • low energy penalty emission controls; advanced fuel injectors;
  • ignition systems, intake air management systems; and
  • turbomachinery.

Area of Interest (AOI) 8: Physics-Based Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) Sub-Model Development and Validation. The objective of this AOI is the development and validation of more accurate, physics-based, mathematical submodels for use in Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) software. The improved-accuracy models must not depend on any specific CFD code for accuracy or validation, i.e. they must be stand-alone mathematical models adaptable for use in any of the available CFD software packages. The submodels will be made available to CFD software developers (vendors) for inclusion in their future software offerings.

CFD software is used by all internal combustion engine developers in the automotive and related industries. While use of the software has led to improved engine designs, it has not yet realized its full potential for attaining the goals of shortened engine development cycle time, minimized fuel consumption, or minimized exhaust emissions from engines. A barrier to achieving these goals is the lack of predictive accuracies of the currently available submodels used in commercial and government-sponsored CFD software codes.

Current inaccuracies lead to a lack of confidence in modeling predictions as engine operating parameters change, which creates the need to tune or calibrate the submodels for effective use. This process is very inefficient and time consuming for the engine developer. More accurate submodels need to be more physics-based and predictive in nature, thereby requiring less calibration and tuning than currently available submodels.

Development of new or improved mathematical submodels is expected to yield higher accuracy than those currently employed in commercial and government-sponsored CFD codes (even at the expense of computational speed). Only the following submodel areas are candidates for funding under this AOI:

  1. Fuel Injection Spray From Injector Nozzle Outlet to Vaporization for Multicomponent Fuels;
  2. Cavitation Within Fuel Injectors;
  3. Flash Boiling of Fuel From a Fuel Injector;
  4. Fuel Spray/Cylinder Wall Interactions and Associated Fuel Film Dynamics;
  5. High-Pressure Supercritical Fuel Injection;
  6. In-Cylinder Radiation and Heat Transfer;
  7. Engine Knock Prediction;
  8. Engine-Out Gaseous and Soot Emissions.

Area of Interest (AOI) 9: High-Efficiency, Medium and Heavy-Duty Natural Gas (Dedicated or Dual-Fuel) Engine Technologies. The objective of this AOI is development of technologies enabling medium- and heavy-duty engines fueled by natural gas, or a natural gas derived fuel, with diesel-like efficiency.

Proposed engines can include pilot fuel ignition, but the pilot must be limited to not more than 5% of fuel consumed. Engines must be capable of meeting current emission standards and technologies developed must be demonstrated on an engine. Preference will be given to applications with technologies that minimize reliance on exhaust after-treatment systems.

The R&D should also address the horsepower, reliability and durability of the engines for safe and efficient operation in consideration of the specific operating conditions of real-world use. Applications must include a financial analysis of the total system cost including hardware, fuel, and other operating and maintenance costs. Applications must present a sound business case for the proposed technology.



Excellent goals and objectives. Will 10% be met with $55.8 million?


This money tips development in favor of the list, it is not intended to be THE funding. Many times DOE funding has to be one to one matched by the organization.

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