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US DOE and California partner to support $11M in advanced natural gas engine research

The US Department of Energy, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), California Energy Commission, and South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) have teamed up to launch new research focused on medium- and heavy-duty natural gas engines and vehicles.

Through a new request for proposals (RHQ-8-82305), NREL will award up to $11 million for projects in three categories: (1) reducing the cost natural gas vehicles; (2) increasing vehicle efficiency; and (3) advancing new innovative medium- and heavy-duty natural gas engine designs.

Lowering the Total Cost of Ownership. The RFP is looking for technologies that lower initial vehicle costs as well as TCO over a two-year period. Technologies may provide engine operation that will reduce costs or improve efficiency, as well as technologies that address costs for storage, fuel or emissions control, or other natural gas vehicle systems that contribute to higher costs, compared with conventional vehicles.

Current NG vehicles can have an initial cost premium of between 15%-50% over conventional technology. Proposals should demonstrate methodology proposed to meet the objective to bring the cost differential between conventional technologies and NGV’s in the same vehicle class down to between 5%-25%.

For proposals that do not demonstrate an initial cost reduction, proposals should compare the two-year total cost of ownership for the CNG technology compared with conventional vehicles of the same vehicle class and duty cycle, showing lower costs for the NG product. Successful projects will demonstrate the use of innovative engine, vehicle, drive-train, on- board storage, fueling systems or other technologies that can lead to the reduction in the TCO to meet the overall objective.

Example strategies and methodologies include:

  • Innovative on-board storage tank designs or monitoring technologies that can reduce costs, weight, or displaced volume on a vehicle.

  • Technologies that can improve storage utilization by addressing thermodynamic effects such as those associated with achieving full-fills using Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) dispensers, using stranded gas in low pressure tanks, reducing the need for venting of Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) tanks, etc.

Improving NG engine and vehicle emissions and efficiency. In this category, the awardee will improve the efficiency and emissions of a natural gas engine as part of a conventional or hybrid powertrain, to the point of being capable of commercially saleable into a medium- or heavy-duty vehicle.

The objective is to demonstrate fuel efficiency and emissions improvements through advanced combustion, hybridization or other methods that achieve comparable performance and efficiency as that of current diesel technologies and be capable of being certified to ultra low NNOxOx levels (e.g., 0.02g/bHp-hr, also referred to as near-zero NOx levels).

Technologies leading to even lower emissions levels is encouraged. Efficiency and emissions improvements shall be proven through analytics or demonstration to quantify the impact to emissions and efficiency as compared to current conventional technology. The technical proposal should identify or develop appropriate deterioration factors to be used as a basis for emissions and efficiency calculations.

Example strategies and methodologies include:

  • Use of non-diesel pilot fuel for direct-injection applications to increase efficiency and minimize PM and NOx.

  • Research homogeneous charge compression ignition, or other kinetically-controlled combustion regime, for natural gas engines, including engine controls development and/or spark-assistance to extend the range of compression ignition operation.

  • Demonstrate the benefits of reactivity controlled compression ignition using natural gas in combination with a higher-cetane pilot fuel.

  • Develop advanced emission control strategies that can enable the certification of high efficiency natural engines including but not limited to low temperature catalysis of methane.

  • Integrate an advanced natural gas engine as a high efficiency, low emission, and cost-effective range extender in a hybrid-electric vehicle application.

Expanding natural gas engine and vehicle availability. Awardees will develop and make commercially available natural gas engine(s). The project(s) will address the near- to mid- term time (commercial introduction of their development within 3-5 years of the end of the subcontract). Proposals may consist of all phases of engine and vehicle development, from conceptual design and feasibility analysis to prototype engine development and laboratory testing, production engine development, chassis integration, and technical and market demonstration.

A successful proposal must have engagement of third parties directly linked to the commercial product and must involve the Engine Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) or Vehicle OEM. Chassis integration and vehicle demonstration activities are required to validate real-world performance.

The engine objective is for the resulting to be capable of being certified to the medium- and heavy-duty engine levels for the vehicle service class of the intended market, in particular markets where near-zero NOx levels are important. More aggressive emission levels are encouraged. All vehicle certification requirements must be comprehensively addressed either through this work effort or defined within a commercialization and emissions certification plan as part of the final report deliverable.

Example strategies and methodologies include:

  • Develop a 12-liter or larger natural gas engine that can support over-the-road trucking with performance that exceeds existing commercially available on-road natural gas engines.

  • Integrate and demonstrate a prototype natural gas engine with advanced technology on a vehicle representative of the target market.

  • Integrate a smaller displacement, near-zero NOx, high efficiency natural gas engine as a range extender in a hybrid-electric Class 8 vehicle application.

NREL will award 2-5 performance-based Firm Fixed Price subcontract(s) under this solicitation. Offerors may propose a period of performance between 24 and 36 months in duration with an estimated budget of approximately $1,000,000-$4,000,000 per award amount from NREL.



Is this a waste of money or political payoffs...take your pick.


Trucks can use NG, but they are not optimized.
This is not a "payoff" show links and evidence or be quiet.


No proof; just an opinion and speculation. Why spend money on changing from diesel to natural gas? The money would be better spend on electric transportation.

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