By - Jim Vess

U.S. DOE launches $50 million research program on electric and alternative-fuel trucks

Energize Weekly, August 28, 2019

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), in cooperation with university researchers and major auto manufacturers, has launched a $50 million program to develop electric and alternative-fuel technologies for trucks and off-road vehicles.

The research projects will focus on gaseous fuels – including natural gas, bio-power and hydrogen – heavy-duty truck electrification, fuel cells and energy efficient off-road vehicles.

“As the fastest growing fuel users in the United States, it is important our trucking industry has access to advanced technologies, such as electrification and fuel cells, as a way to move goods efficiently and economically,” Mark W. Menezes, a DOE under secretary, said in a statement.

DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) selected 24 research projects from university labs and transport companies. “These selections reinforce DOE’s commitment to sustainable transportation options,” Menezes said.

Trucks carry more than 70 percent of the nation’s freight, and at some point, virtually all goods travel by truck, DOE said. The transport is done primarily by medium- and heavy-duty trucks, which annually consume 25 percent of the fuel used in the U.S., even though they make up just 4 percent of the vehicles on the road.

Off-road vehicles, which include construction, mining and agricultural vehicles, account for 8 percent of total fuel consumed annually.

The federal Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects that the freight-truck sector’s annual vehicle miles traveled will increase by 54 percent by 2050.

Among the companies receiving grants were the Kenworth trucks, which was awarded $5 million for a long-range battery-electric vehicle, and Daimler Trucks North America, which received $4.6 million for an advanced battery project.

Volvo Technology of America got $3.8 million for a project to improve freight productivity of heavy-duty electric trucks by intelligent energy management.

General Motors received a $2 million grant for a fuel cell project, and Air Products and Chemicals was given $1.7 million for a hydrogen fueling pump project.

Twelve university research groups also received funding.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison received $2.7 million for a program to improve efficiency in off-road vehicles, and the University of Michigan was given $1 million for a project to improve the storage of gaseous fuels.

“EERE has a strong track record of successful investment in the research and development of a broad portfolio of technologies, including electrification, advanced combustion engines, and fuels such as natural gas, hydrogen, and biofuels, that can significantly improve the efficiency and reduce the cost of transportation energy,” Menezes said.

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