The U.S. Dept. of Energy has authorized $139 million in federal funding to support 55 R&D projects working toward advanced vehicle technologies, including fuel diversification, vehicle efficiency, energy storage, lightweight materials, and new mobility technologies, to improve the overall energy efficiency and affordability. Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp. are involved in two of the research projects.
Also included among the projects to receive DOE funds is one led by American Axle & Manufacturing.
“Technological innovation is key to revitalizing America’s manufacturing competitiveness, especially in the transportation sector,” stated Sec. of Energy Dan Brouillette, announcing the funding. “The Trump Administration is committed to investing in technologies that expand access to affordable mobility and provide consumers with a wide range of transportation options to meet their needs.”
The funds will be provided by DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), in support of DOE’s Energy Storage Grand Challenge, a "comprehensive strategy to create and sustain U.S. global leadership in energy storage technology, utilization, and exports" announced in January 2020.
Two units of EERE — the Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) and Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) — are collaborating on two projects totaling $15 million, aimed at lightweight and high-performance fiber-reinforced polymer composites for vehicle applications. The first is project led by Ford and DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory to develop multi-functional composite structures with integrated electronics integration, "for cross car beam applications."
The second, led by GM and due to receive $7.5 million from DOE, is developing fiber-reinforced composites for high-volume manufacturing of structural battery enclosures.
Michigan State University’s Scale Up Research Facility is partnering with both teams.
American Axle is among the organizations researching ways to reduce the need for critical minerals (e.g., rare-earth materials) in electric drive motors, and platinum group metals in emission catalysts. AA&M's project — "Low-Cost, High-Performance, Heavy Rare Earth-Free, 3-in-1 Electric Drive Unit" — will receive $5 million in DOE sponsorship.
General Motors is also joining research to reduce platinum (PGM) content in catalytic converters, a project that will receive $2.5 million in DOE funds.
Other funded projects to be managed by the Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO.) VTO 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. Their goals include:
• Advance lithium-ion batteries using silicon-based anodes;
• Accelerate the development of "smart charging" technologies to mitigate potential electric vehicle impacts on the grid, and to maintain consumers' charging costs;
• Improve the efficiency of light-duty gasoline engines, medium- and heavy- duty natural-gas engines, and agricultural off-road vehicles;
• Increase demonstrations and infrastructure for advanced technology vehicles, including those for gaseous fuels;
• Develop lightweight and high-performance fiber-reinforced polymer composites for vehicle applications; and,
• Support mobility technologies, such as connected and automated vehicles, as well as new transit capabilities.