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DOE Awards $45m to Ford, GM, GE, 35 Others

Ford logoFord, General Motors, General Electric and the Ohio State University are among the 38 companies, universities and national labs to receive more than $45 million in Energy Department funding for projects that accelerate the research and development of vehicle technologies to improve fuel efficiency, lower transportation costs and protect the environment.

Through the Advanced Vehicle Power Technology Alliance between the DOE and the US Army, the Army is contributing an additional $3 million to support projects focused on lightweighting and propulsion materials, batteries, fuels and lubricants.

Other companies receiving funding are: Chrysler, Caterpillar, Sigma Technologies International, Farasis Energy, Envia Systems, TIAX, 3M, EC Power, Daikin America, Wildcat Discovery Technologies, Delphi Automotive Systems, Halla Visteon Climate Control and Arkansas Power Electronics International.

The 38 projects announced today span five major areas and include:

  • Advanced lightweighting and propulsion materials (15 projects; $10.2 million). These projects will conduct research on lightweight materials — such as advanced high-strength steel, magnesium and aluminum — that allow vehicle manufacturers to include electric drive components, electronic systems and emissions control equipment without increasing vehicle weight. Reducing a vehicle’s weight by 10 percent can improve fuel economy by 6 to 8 percent, the DOE says.
  • Advanced batteries (13 projects; $22.5 million). The awards are intended to help improve cell chemistry and composition, develop advanced electrolytes and create new battery design tools, helping to further reduce the cost of plug-in electric vehicle batteries. The DOE says in the last four years, the cost has come down by nearly 50 percent. The projects aim to cut battery size and weight in half, while improving efficiency and performance.
  • Power electronics (four projects; $8 million). Compared to silicon-based technologies, wide bandgap semiconductors — such as silicon carbide and gallium nitride — can operate at higher temperatures, have greater durability and reliability, and can lower the cost and improve performance of plug-in electric vehicle inverters. Separately, new approaches to enable high-temperature operation and cost reduction for capacitors in these inverters will also help to reduce the cost of vehicle power electronics. The DOE says these projects will contribute to reducing the cost of a plug-in electric vehicle inverter by more than 30 percent.
  • Advanced heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems (two projects; $4 million). These two projects are focused on developing innovative heating and cooling technologies that reduce battery demands and improve range by 20 to 30 percent.
  • Fuels and lubricants (four projects; $2.5 million): These projects will develop advanced fuels and lubricants that can reduce friction losses and increase the efficiency of cars already on the market and next generation passenger vehicles.

These new projects support the goals of the DOE’s EV Everywhere Grand Challenge, a broader initiative to make plug-in electric vehicles as affordable and convenient to own and drive as today’s gasoline-powered vehicles within 10 years.

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