Energy Department Bets on American Future in Sustainable Transportation

Last week, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced new funding of nearly $300 million for the “research and development of sustainable transportation resources and technologies.”

Mark W. Menezes, under secretary of energy, gave the announcement at the Washington Auto Show. During his speech, Menezes highlighted transportation as the sector which has the largest impact on greenhouse gas emissions in the national economy.

“As we enter a new decade, DOE remains diligent in addressing the various challenges and opportunities associated with the dramatic changes occurring within our transportation sector,” said Under Secretary Menezes. “Under this announcement, DOE is focusing our efforts on three areas of transportation to further spur innovative breakthroughs in this sector.”

The three different funding opportunities of the DOE investment will target technologies that will help to ramp up growth in sustainable transportation, with the overall goal of “providing consumers and businesses with a range of technologies and fuels.”

The Vehicles Technologies Office will receive $133 million to focus on multiple areas of research, including advanced batteries, advanced engine and fuel technologies, lightweight materials, new mobility technologies, and alternative fuels technology demonstrations.

The Fuel Cells Technologies Office will get $64 million to address hydrogen research like production, storage, transport, and use of the energy source. And the Bioenergy Technologies Office will receive $100 million to “support the U.S. bioeconomy.” This research will include reducing the cost of drop-in biofuels and biopower, sourced from biomass or other waste resources.

“As technologies, business models, and consumer demands evolve, our diverse supply of fuels and technologies allows us to approach the future of sustainable transportation from all angles, consistent with our comprehensive energy strategy,” said Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Daniel Simmons. “The products that result from this FOA will significantly impact the sustainable energy market for the better.”

This announcement comes at a time when the DOE has been investing heavily in energy innovation. The department announced research funding for new energy technologies throughout 2019. Most recently, the DOE announced the creation of the Energy Storage Grand Challenge, a program to further the U.S.’s leadership in energy storage utilization.

In addition to this $300 million investment, the DOE ARPA-E program has also provided some $443 million in funding to 173 projects in transportation technology over the course of its existence, and today, transportation and related storage technologies make up about 20 percent of ARPA-E’s active program funding.

CRES Forum spotlighted two innovative companies in the transportation sector who are ARPA-E success stories, one (Wolfspeed) utilizes silicon carbide (SiC) power for increased power efficiency and reliability (including for electric vehicles), and one (Onboard Dynamics) provides mobile, cost-effective compressed natural gas fueling for fleets.

These are just two stories in the many that are utilizing DOE and ARPA-E programs to further their businesses and innovate faster. With more sustainable technology in the transportation sector, America’s highways and byways could start to see significant changes in the next few years and move toward a cleaner future.

Learn more in the videos below.

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