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WASHINGTON, DC – Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman today announced a public-private partnership between the Department of Energy, industry and academia aimed at significantly improving the vehicle efficiency of cars and trucks through advances in technology.  The partnership consists of six projects with a value including cost share of over $14 million.

“Achieving the goal of increased vehicle efficiency will require a coordinated approach involving government agencies, private companies and researchers.  Partnerships like this will propel innovation, and eventually lead to a day when our children and grandchildren will call the cars we drive today ‘antiques,’” Secretary Bodman said.

The projects were selected in three technology areas as part of the department’s FreedomCAR and Vehicle Technologies Program.  This program seeks to develop more energy efficient and environmentally friendly technologies for cars and trucks that will use significantly less oil, and still preserve America's freedom of mobility.  Many of these advanced power technologies also serve as the foundation of tomorrow's hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. 

It is estimated that these technologies could reduce fuel use for all highway vehicles by 10 percent, saving over one million barrels of oil per day by 2025. The projects support the department’s goal to improve the efficiency of internal combustion engines from 30 percent to 45 percent by 2010 for light-duty vehicles such as passenger cars and SUVs and from 40 to 55 percent by 2013 for heavy-duty vehicles.

In 2004, the United States used about 11 million barrels of crude oil per day for passenger vehicles and trucks.  Over half of that oil is imported from foreign countries. Current projections show imports to comprise 68 percent of domestic needs by the year 2025.  Increasing the energy efficiency of the nation’s passenger vehicles and trucks is an effective way to reduce dependence on imported oil, while also reducing environmental emissions. 

Descriptions of the projects, by technology area, are provided below:

Advanced Combustion Engine Enabling Technologies

Four projects were selected with the overall goal of improving the efficiency of internal combustion engines while meeting cost, durability, and emission constraints.  The four projects are specifically aimed at conducting research on technologies that directly enable or support advanced high efficiency clean combustion in either diesel or gasoline engines.

Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI will integrate and validate a number of advanced technologies for high efficiency clean combustion targeted to achieve an in-vehicle fuel economy improvement of 20 percent over baseline port-fuel-injected gasoline engines currently in production.  The proposed engine concept employs a high-compression-ratio, modified Atkinson combustion cycle that uses a novel low-pressure direct injection fuel system and electronically-controlled pneumatic valve actuation.  These systems will be enhanced and enabled by combustion sensing ionization feed-back control for knock and combustion stability control and a forward-backward mass air flow sensor system for precise air-fuel ratio control.  Team members include Visteon. 

DOE cost: $691,943                Industry cost share: $691,366

Honeywell International in Minneapolis, MN will conduct work on the development, validation, and optimization of advanced fast-response particulate matter and nitrous oxides sensors suitable to support an exhaust gas recirculation control system in diesel engines.  The project will include validation and operation of the sensors under conditions expected in diesel engine applications.  Team members include the University of Minnesota Center for Diesel Research and John Deere Power Systems.

DOE cost:  $583,000               Industry cost share: $165,000

Delphi Automotive Systems, LLC in Troy, MI will develop and validate an optimal, cost effective approach to variable valve actuation for advanced, low-temperature combustion processes in diesel engines.  Work includes the development and scale-up testing of a continuously variable valvetrain system including the development of appropriate control systems. Team members include Electricore, Inc.

DOE cost: $706,164                Industry cost share: $508,794

Envera, LLC in Mill Valley, CA will develop and validate a fast-response actuator system for adjusting the compression ratio to improve efficiency in variable compression ratio gasoline and diesel engines and provide improved control of advanced homogeneous charge compression combustion processes.  Work will be focused on demonstrating an acutator system having a fast cycle-resolved response, high reliability, low cost, and minimal parasitic power load on the engine and will include the fabrication, installation, and testing of an optimized actuator system in a vehicle.  Team members include Magna-Steyr and Automotive Specialists.

DOE cost: $522,265                Industry cost share: $463,448

Integration of On-Board Idle Reduction Technology in Heavy Trucks as Original Factory Equipment Option

One project was selected to overcome the barriers preventing the widespread use of idle reduction technologies in heavy-duty trucks including initial cost, driver education and receptiveness, and system reliability and maintenance. 

International Truck and Engine Corporation in Warrenville, IL will facilitate idle reduction in Class 8 trucks by making idle reduction equipment available on new trucks as an option orderable from the factory.  Both "Cold Climate" and "Hot and Cold Climate" systems will be developed and released for controlling cab temperature and comfort during rest periods.  Work includes the validation of component and system capabilities, release of factory documentation for production, completion of a pre-production pilot build of a truck with the idle reduction system and field testing under hot and cold season conditions to evaluate system performance and reliability and obtain customer acceptance.  Team members include Cummins, Vanner, and Bergstrom.

DOE cost: $350,000                Industry cost share: $688,998

Advanced Vehicle Testing and Evaluation

One project was selected which, in collaboration with industry, focuses on the testing and evaluation of commercially available and pre-production light-, medium-, and heavy-duty advanced technology vehicles using advanced energy storage technologies (such as batteries, ultra-capacitors, and high-pressure, high-volume hydrogen storage tanks); advanced drive trains; internal combustion engines burning advanced fuels (such as 100 percent hydrogen and hydrogen enriched natural gas blended fuels); advanced climate control, power electronic, and other ancillary systems; and combinations of advanced onboard engine technologies (hybrids).  Activities also include evaluations of the necessary infrastructure required to fuel advanced technology vehicles.

Clarity Group, Inc. in Phoenix, AZ will conduct field performance evaluations including baseline performance, accelerated reliability, and fleet testing of state-of-the-art light-, medium-, and heavy-duty advanced technology vehicles equipped with one or more advanced technologies.  Evaluations will also be conducted on the required vehicle-to-infrastructure interface required for fueling the advanced technology vehicles.

DOE cost: $4,500,000             Industry cost share: $4,500,000

Media contacts:
Mike Waldron, 202/586-4940
Tom Welch, 202/586-5806