Energy Department to invest nearly $20 million in plug-in hybrid research
The Energy Department said that it has selected five projects for negotiation of awards under the agency’s collaboration with the United States Advanced Battery Consortium for $17.2 million in funding. The five projects will focus on PHEV battery development.
The agency also said that it will provide nearly $2 million to the University of Michigan to spearhead a study exploring the future of PHEVs.
According to the Energy Department, the funding will help advance President George W. Bush’s “Twenty in Ten Plan,” which aims to displace 20 percent of gasoline usage by 2017 through greater use of clean, renewable fuels and increased vehicle efficiency. PHEVs, according to the agency, have the potential to displace a large amount of gasoline by delivering up to 40 miles of electric range without recharging—a distance that would include most daily round-trip commutes.
“These projects will help provide the perspective and expertise necessary to get plug-in hybrid electric vehicles out of the laboratory and into the showroom, a key part of the president’s plan to reduce our reliance on oil by increasing the use of clean energy technologies,” Department of Energy Assistant Secretary for Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability Kevin Kolevar said.
Cost share will allow up to $38 million in battery research
According to the Department of Energy, the five projects selected for negotiation of awards of up to $17.2 million aim to address critical barriers to the commercialization of PHEVs, specifically battery cost and battery life. Combined with cost share from the United States Advanced Battery Consortium, the projects will allow up to $38 million in battery research and development.
The agency expects the projects to begin this year and continue through 2009. The United States Advanced Battery Consortium will negotiate final contract terms with five lithium ion battery developers.
Companies selected for negotiation of awards include:
- 3M (St. Paul, Minn.)—Selected for an award of up to $1.14 million (total Energy Department/industry cost share is $ 2.28 million) over two years to screen nickel/manganese/cobalt (NMC) cathode materials through building and testing of small-sized cells.
- A123Systems (Watertown, Mass.)—Selected for an award of up to $6.25 million (total Energy Department/industry cost share is $12.5 million) over three years for a project to develop batteries based on nanophase iron-phosphate chemistry for 10- and 40-mile-range PHEVs.
- Compact Power Inc. (Troy, Mich.)—Selected for an award of up to $4.45 million (total agency/industry cost share is $12.7 million) over three years to develop batteries for 10-mile-range PHEVs using high-energy and high-power manganese-spinel.
- EnerDel Inc. (Indianapolis)—Selected for an award of up to $1.25 million (total agency/industry cost share is $2.5 million) over two years to develop cells for 10- and 40-mile-range PHEVs using nanophase lithium titanate coupled with a high-voltage nickel-manganese cathode material.
- Johnson Controls/Saft Advanced Power Solutions (Milwaukee)—Selected for an award of up to $4.1 million (total agency/industry cost share is $8.2 million) over two years to develop batteries using a nickelate/layered chemistry for 10- and 40-mile-range PHEVs.
Researchers will study driving behaviors, perception of PHEVs
The University of Michigan’s Michigan Memorial Phoenix Energy Institute will receive nearly $2 million from the Department of Energy to coordinate efforts among the agency and its Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and DTE Energy to conduct a two-year study on PHEVs. According to the Energy Department, the study will:
- Evaluate how PHEVs would share the power grid with our nation’s other energy needs.
- Monitor the American public’s evolving view of PHEVs and provide the first national-level empirical data on how driving behavior differs with these vehicles compared to conventional gasoline, diesel and hybrid vehicles.
- Assess a possible reduction of greenhouse gas emissions with the increased use of PHEVs.
- Identify how automakers could optimize PHEV design to increase performance while also reducing cost. University of Michigan researchers and auto industry partners will build a simulation model to test different PHEV design concepts.
Research for this study will take place over the next two years, and a preliminary report is expected to be released in January at the Detroit Auto Show, the Energy Department said.