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DOE announces $58M in funding for advanced vehicle technologies

US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz used the Washington DC Auto show as the venue to announce $58 million in funding for vehicle technology advancements. (Earlier post.) (DE-FOA-0001384: Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Vehicle Technologies Program Wide Funding Opportunity Announcement) DOE also released a report highlighting the successes of itsAdvanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program.

Pre-announced in December, a $55-million funding opportunity will solicit projects across vehicle technologies such as energy storage, electric drive systems, materials, fuels and lubricants and advanced combustion. Secretary Moniz also announced that two innovative projects at CALSTART and the National Association of Regional Councils will receive $3 million to develop systems that help companies combine their purchasing of advanced vehicles, components, and infrastructure to reduce incremental cost and achieve economies of scale.

This FOA contains a total of 11 Areas of Interest (AOIs) and focuses on advanced light-weighting; advanced battery development; low cost electric motor development; enabling technologies for high efficiency engines; and support for EV deployment and AFV workplace safety programs. These areas of interest apply to light, medium, and heavy-duty on-road vehicles.

DOE will fund cost-shared projects with private industry, national laboratories, and university teams. One or more projects awarded may be managed collaboratively with the US Army Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC).

Area of Interest (AOI) 1: EV Everywhere Plug-In Electric Vehicle Local Showcases. Consumers who are interested in a plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) often require extra coaching and education to understand the extent of the benefits that can be realized from their purchase. The objective of AOI 1 is to promote and demonstrate PEV use by establishing local showcases that provide a hands-on consumer experience and in-depth education in a conveniently located, brand-neutral setting. This AOI will help promote the use of PEVs to reduce dependence on petroleum and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Area of Interest (AOI) 2: Grid Modernization for Electric Vehicles. The objective of AOI 2 is to research, develop, and demonstrate plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) technologies that enable efficient grid integration. Applications under this AOI must address one or more of three specific technology areas:

  • Bi-Directional Power Flow: Cost and reduced battery life present significant barriers to customer acceptance of technologies that are capable of charging and discharging the PEV battery pack when connected to the grid. The objective of this technology area is to research, develop, and demonstrate an integrated PEV bi-direction power-management system capable of operation under on-road and grid-based loads.

  • Load Control Using Vehicle to Grid (V2G) Communication: Smart devices capable of managing the transformer load for residential, multi-dwelling units (MDU), and workplace charging sites have the potential to increase transformer life without requiring significant hardware upgrades. The objective of this technology area is to research, develop, and demonstrate technologies which utilize PEV and/or electric vehicle charging equipment communication to effectively manage the load on a transformer that is charging multiple grid-connected electric drive vehicles. The proposed technology should not adversely impact the PEV charging equipment efficiency in terms of quality and charge time.

  • Impact of Grid Services on PEVs: Grid management services optimize grid efficiency and have the potential to significantly alter the required charging frequency, profile, and power level provided to the PEV. The objective of this technology area is to research and assess different grid-management-service-use-case-scenarios that affect integration with a PEV through modeling and hardware evaluation. The research should include existing grid management services as well as future changes that affect integration with a PEV.

Area of Interest (AOI) 3: Accelerated Development and Deployment of Low-Cost Automotive Mg Sheet Components. The objective of AOI 3 is to apply an integrated suite of experimental, computational, and data tools to accelerate research, development, and demonstration of a magnesium (Mg) sheet component (or components) on a model year 2013 (MY13) or newer vehicle at a manufacturing cost of less than $2.50 per pound of weight saved. While Mg die-castings have been applied in some vehicles, Mg sheet components are only found in very low-volume, specialty vehicles. The vast majority of a vehicle structure is composed of stamped sheet product, and thus introducing technologies for high-volume manufacturing of Mg sheet products could enable much greater weight savings.

Area of Interest (AOI) 4: Corrosion Protection and Dissimilar Material Joining for Next-Generation Lightweight Vehicles. The objective of AOI 4 is to identify specific dissimilar material joining and/or corrosion protection challenges that prevent near term introduction of lightweight materials, and to bring novel technologies that address these challenges to near-commercial readiness. Only structures utilizing dissimilar combinations of the following materials are desired:

  • Aluminum (5000, 6000, or 7000 series alloys)
  • Steel (Mild, HSLA, AHSS, or Boron automotive alloy)
  • Magnesium (cast, sheet, or extrusion, any alloy)
  • Carbon Fiber Polymer Composite

Area of Interest (AOI) 5: Advances for the Production of Low Cost Electric Drive Vehicle Motors. The objective of AOI 5 is to develop and demonstrate advanced electric machine technologies with a focus on motor design, material, and production pathways to significantly lower cost. Projects should emphasize materials-based developments that link to manufacturing and scale-up of materials and machine designs that can meet cost, specific power, and power density technical targets for electric drive vehicle motors.

In particular, this topic aims to develop and show technology readiness for advanced electric machine technologies that can achieve the designated technical targets by integrating new materials or technology-based approaches to current electric machine production.

AOI 5 Technical Targets
Cost Specific Power Power Density
$4.7/kilowatt (kW) 1.6 kW/kilogram 5.7 kW/Liter

Specific improvements of interest include, but are not limited to, hard or soft magnetic materials; non-rare earth machine designs; insulation materials, and production or process improvements. Proposed improvements should already be demonstrated or proven at a bulk material, prototype, or proof-of-concept level, and projects should generally focus on a transition from Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 4 to 7. DOE is encouraging applicants to include automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and/or automotive suppliers through partnerships to create a strong path to product commercialization for vehicles.

Area of Interest (AOI) 6: Development of Advanced High-Voltage Electrolytes and Additives, Conformable and Self-healing Solid State Electrolytes, and Lithium Metal Protection. The objective of AOI 6 is to develop:

  1. Advanced electrolytes and additives that are stable above 4.3V, safe and low cost without sacrificing performance;

  2. Conformable and self-healing solid state electrolytes that will enable lithium metal or beyond-lithium batteries to achieve energy densities at least 2x higher than the state-of-the art lithium-ion cells; and

  3. Novel approaches to protect the metallic lithium electrode from dendrite formation.

Area of Interest (AOI) 7: Development of Advanced Material Characterization Techniques. The objective of AOI 7 is to develop in situ microscopy and spectroscopy tools capable of identifying physical and chemical changes of Li battery components during charging and discharging with time, depth, and space resolution, and that will allow detailed monitoring of processes at relevant length scales. When combined with advanced electrochemical techniques, especially at the single particle level, these suites of techniques will provide a rich understanding of battery behavior in operando.

Applications are sought for, but not limited to, the following areas:

  • Formation and function of solid electrolyte interface layers, especially in Si and Li metal anodes.

  • Examination of nucleation and growth of layers in metal anodes and sulfur cathodes.

  • Identification of speciation in sulfur cathodes.

  • Identification of reaction products during high-voltage operation of cathodes and during electrolyte reduction on anodes.

  • Measurement of kinetic, transport, and mechanical properties at the scale of a single particle with specific emphasis on rates of reactions at high voltages, transports in bulk vs. grain boundaries, and role of exposed facets.

  • Structural changes in electrode materials during lithiation and cycling and their relationships to performance, especially in the Li-Mn rich Ni-Mn-Co cathode.

Area of Interest (AOI) 8: Advanced Battery Materials Modeling AOI 8 Objective. The objective of AOI 8 is to develop advanced models to assess emerging Li-Ion and beyond Li-ion systems in order to understand the challenges impeding their full potential. Models will include electrochemical/chemical and transport processes (kinetics, thermodynamics, phase transitions, ion transport, etc.) that occur in a wide range of length and time scales. The focus of this effort will be to push the boundary of modeling techniques and to use the knowledge gained to suggest solutions to relevant problems.

Better models are needed to assess emerging Li-Ion and beyond Li-Ion systems in order to understand the challenges impeding their full potential. Models of interest include but are not limited to:

  • Models that use first-principles approaches to address specific problems such as: (i) high-voltage cathode stability (electrolyte oxidation, oxygen loss), (ii) electrolyte reduction and solid electrolyte interface (SEI) formation, especially on Si and Li metal anodes (iii) speciation in sulfur cathodes.

  • Models that address nucleation and growth during deposition in Li anodes with the aim of predicting dendrite formation and morphology evolution.

  • Models that address the role of protective layers on Li metal and provide guidance on ideal layers with good mechanical and chemical properties.

  • Multi-scale predictive models that quantify the loss of Li due to instability of the SEI in Si and Li metal anodes.

Area of Interest (AOI) 9: Enabling Technologies for Engine and Powertrain Systems. The objective of AOI 9 is to develop advanced enabling technologies for engine and powertrain systems for heavy-duty and light-duty vehicles that will be capable of supporting the achievement of breakthrough thermal efficiencies, while meeting future emissions standards. These novel approaches and ideas should address existing barriers and limitations that inhibit using advanced technologies on a mass market basis to address national energy concerns.

Examples of enabling technologies to be considered include, but are not limited to: low-cost, robust sensors for engine exhaust constituents and in-cylinder phenomena; waste heat recovery; variable valve actuation and timing; lightweight components; reduced friction; low heat rejection and thermal management; low energy penalty emission controls; advanced fuel injection; intake air management; and turbomachinery.

Area of Interest (AOI) 10: Alternative Fuel Vehicle Workplace Safety Programs. The objective of AOI 10 is to provide safety training and guidance related to maintenance and garage facility upgrades and building modifications that will support the use of alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs). This AOI is focused only on facilities with EPACT defined natural gas, propane, and hydrogen vehicle refueling infrastructure.

Gaseous alternative fuels have unique/unusual safety aspects that must be considered when designing or upgrading facilities such as garage maintenance facilities, fueling operations, and parking structures. Building designers, safety officials, and decision makers that are misinformed or unfamiliar with these fuels are often confronted with unnecessary or impractical construction proposals and budget estimates that prevent AFVs from being seriously considered.

Area of Interest (AOI) 11: Open Topic/Exploratory Research. The objective of AOI 11 is to develop novel, non-incremental technologies that facilitate one or more of the overall Vehicle Technologies Office’s (VTO) goals but are not represented in a significant way in the VTO’s existing Technology Roadmaps or current project portfolios. Projects should support high-risk, proof-of-concept research to develop a unique technology concept, either in an area not currently supported by the VTO or as a potential enhancement to an ongoing focused technology area. The full spectrum of technologies and/or non-hardware solutions relevant to efficient and environmentally friendly transportation technologies will be considered.


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