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DOE announces $60M to accelerate advanced vehicle technologies research

The US Department of Energy (DOE) Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) announced up to $60 million in new and innovative advanced vehicle technologies research. (DE-FOA-0002420) This funding opportunity supports priorities in batteries and electrification, advanced engine and fuel technologies, materials, and new mobility technologies.

The Vehicle Technologies Office funds a broad portfolio of early-stage research to develop new affordable, efficient and clean transportation options to enable industry to accelerate the development and widespread use of a variety of innovative transportation technologies. The research pathways focus on fuel diversification, vehicle efficiency, energy storage, lightweight materials, and new mobility technologies to improve the overall energy efficiency and affordability of the transportation system.

In partnership with industry, VTO has established aggressive targets to focus research on cost-reduction, efficiency, and performance. VTO-funded research has reduced the cost of advanced batteries by 75% since 2008, and nearly every plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) on the road today uses VTO-developed battery technology.

However, to enable greater affordability and PEV accessibility for all Americans, VTO seeks new battery chemistries and cell technologies to reduce the cost of electric vehicle battery packs by more than half, to below $80/kWh, while increasing driving range to 300 miles and decreasing charge time to 15 minutes or less by 2028.

In addition, building on prior research, VTO has identified opportunities to significantly increase the power density of electric drive systems. New innovations in motor technology—printable magnets, high-conductivity windings, and novel architectures—could lead to much smaller, very high energy density systems with twice the useful life that can enable more affordable, better performing PEVs. DOE is working to lower the cost of the power electronics and motors in an EV to $7/kW by 2022 from $30/kW in 2012.

Similarly, there are benefits to be gained with advanced combustion engine research. The co-optimization of engines and fuels has the potential to achieve significantly higher efficiencies than possible with current fuels and engines, improving passenger fuel economy by as much as 35% by 2030 (vs. a 2015 baseline of 36 miles per gallon). In addition, the integrated research of advanced materials, such as high-temperature alloys, and combustion strategies can not only expand engine operating parameters but also enable lighter-weight engines for better performance and efficiency.

There are also efficiency opportunities beyond vehicle components and systems. Advances in connectivity and automation have the potential to improve transportation system-level energy efficiency, energy productivity, and affordability.

Leveraging high performance computing resources unique to the national laboratory system, VTO has developed robust modeling, simulation, and big data analytics capabilities, while research of advanced sensing and perception technologies, system controls, and other connected and automated technologies has advanced rapidly.

Partnerships between academia and industry can apply advanced computing and data analytics capabilities with new mobility technologies to create state-of-the-art testbeds that validate and support new, optimized, highly-efficient, and affordable transportation systems.

Topics in the FOA include:

Batteries and Electrification (Up to $35 million)

  • Advanced liquid electrolytes for lithium-ion cells under extreme conditions, such as extreme fast charging, and mechanical, thermal, or electrical abuse.

  • Novel liquid electrolytes for lithium-sulfur cells that improve the overall stability and performance of these cells.

  • Lithium-sulfur and lithium-air battery cell development.

  • High-power-density traction inverters for use in light-, medium-, or heavy-duty vehicle applications.

Advanced Combustion Engines and Fuels (Up to $5 million)

  • Development of simulation tools that couple engine combustion with aftertreatment systems to enable optimization of light- or heavy-duty aftertreatment systems for near-zero exhaust emission while maintaining or improving engine efficiency.

Materials Technology (Up to $11.5 million)

  • Production demonstration of lightweight multi-material passenger vehicle glider systems.

New Mobility Systems (Up to $17.5 million)

  • Cooperative driving automation in vehicles enabled by low-cost infrastructure upgrades or novel applications.

  • New mobility systems technologies or practices demonstrated in real-world transportation systems.

Transportation and Energy Analysis (Up to $1.2 million)

Some of these topics also support DOE’s Energy Storage Grand Challenge, which draws on the extensive research capabilities of the DOE National Laboratories as well as universities and industry to accelerate the development of energy-storage technologies.

The application process will include two phases: a concept paper and a full application. Concept papers are due on 5 February 2021, and full applications are due on 7 April 2021.


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