US pumps $175M into advanced auto fuel research projects

Projects should help address new fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks

In the wake of new fuel efficiency standards, the Energy Department this week spotted 40 new research projects $175 million to develop everything from light-weight building materials to electronics and advanced fuel.

Last month, the US said set new fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks saying they must hit 54.5 miles per gallon by Model Year 2025.   The projects awarded contracts should address some of the issues involved in making cars and trucks more fuel efficient. At least that's the idea.

More auto news: US wants to build cybersecurity protection plan for cars

Here a few of the projects awarded the most money.  (For a complete list go here.)

  • Electric Transportation Engineering: This project will test and evaluate early production, and pre-production light-, medium-, and heavy-duty advanced technology vehicles using a variety of fuels, energy storage systems, and propulsion systems. $26,420,018
  • Chrysler Group: This project will develop and demonstrate a cost effective, light-weight, multimaterial vehicle incorporating technologies targeting 50% weight reduction. Advanced cells and design technology for electric drive batteries. $10,000,000
  • Amerigon: This project will improve passenger car fuel efficiency by 5% through the conversion of exhaust gas waste heat to electric power using a thermoelectric generator. $8,000,000
  • General Motors: This project will develop a thermoelectric generator (TEG) system to convert waste heat to electric power, with the control systems necessary to utilize that power in a vehicle. $8,000,000
  • GMZ Energy: This project will demonstrate a robust thermoelectric exhaust waste heat recovery system that provides greater than 5% fuel efficiency improvement for a light-duty vehicle. $8,000,000
  • Metal Oxygen Separation Technologies: This project will develop a new process that enables low-cost, domestic manufacturing of magnesium. Increased availability of magnesium can enable vehicle weight reduction and improvement in fuel efficiency. $6,000,000
  • The Pennsylvania State University: This project will develop a high energy density lithium-sulfur cell technology that significantly reduces battery size, and improves performance and life. $5,000,000
  • Zoltek Companies: This project will develop a novel low cost route to carbon fiber using a lignin/PAN hybrid precursor and carbon fiber conversion technologies leading to high performance, low-cost carbon fiber. Increased availability of low cost carbon fiber can enable vehicle weight reduction and improvement in fuel economy. $3,748,865
  • United States Automotive Materials Partnership: This project will validate crash models for carbon-fiber composites that would enable the use of lightweight composites in primary-structural automotive crash and energy management applications. $3,500,000
  • Alliance for Sustainable Energy: This project will determine levels at which higher alcohols and other advanced oxygenated fuel components can be readily integrated into the existing fuel supply (drop-in replacement fuels). $1,506,164
  • Ford Motor Company: This project will identify fuel properties that can be used to enable novel combustion strategies with low emissions of nitrogen oxides in an engine, and enhance existing models to capture the effect of additional key fuel properties on combustion. $1,500,000
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology: This project will investigate the use of novel lubricant formulations that target differing lubrication requirements of the major engine subsystems (valve train vs. bearings). $1,497,531
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory: This project will investigate the use of ionic liquids as a new class of multi-functional (anti-wear and friction modifier) lubricant additives to allow the use of lower viscosity engine oils, to improve engine efficiency. $1,200,000

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