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US spends $175 million on advanced vehicle R&D

The US Department of Energy has announced more than US$175 million over the next 3-5 years to accelerate the development and deployment of advanced vehicle technologies. The funding will support innovations throughout the vehicle, including lightweight materials.

The DOE money will support 40 projects targeting better fuels and lubricants, lighter weight materials, longer-lasting and cheaper electric vehicle batteries and components, more efficient engine technologies, and more.

Five projects have been selected to accelerate commercial availability of lighter weight vehicles using advanced lightweight materials that reduce vehicle weight while maintaining the highest safety standards. Three of these projects are related to composites:

  • Zoltek Companies Inc: a novel low cost route to carbon fibre using a lignin/PAN hybrid precursor;
  • United States Automotive Materials Partnership LLC: crash models for carbon fibre composites for use in primary structural automotive crash and energy management applications; and
  • Plasan Carbon Composites: models for predicting the crash behaviour of carbon fibre composites by building and testing subcomponent structures.

The other two lightweight materials projects focus on magnesium.

Two more projects (Vehma International of America Inc and Chrysler Group LLC) are being funded to design, build and test a lightweight vehicle that is 50% lighter than a baseline light-duty vehicle.

The full list of award winners are listed here.

"The Department of Energy is investing in new advanced technologies that will significantly improve vehicle fuel economy, save consumers money, and create skilled jobs for Americans,” says US Energy Secretary Steven Chu. "Investments in the next generation of autos will strengthen our economy and lead to a more fuel-efficient, clean energy future."

Last month, President Obama announced historic fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks which will bring fuel efficiency to 54.5 miles per gallon by Model Year 2025.  These, combined with steps already taken, are expected to save American families $1.7 trillion at the pump and reduce oil consumption by 12 billion barrels by 2025. The Administration has also announced first-of-their-kind fuel-efficiency standards for work trucks, buses and other heavy-duty vehicles.

 

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