The U.S Department of Energy (DOE) announced today up to $7 million in project funding to accelerate the introduction of affordable, scalable, and sustainable high-performance fuels for use in high-efficiency, low-emission engines as part of the Co-Optimization of Fuels and Engines (Co-Optima) initiative. This first-of-its-kind initiative is a collaboration between DOE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) and Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) and brings together DOE national laboratories and industry stakeholders to simultaneously conduct tandem fuel and engine research, development, and deployment assessments. This funding research will help maximize energy savings and on-road vehicle performance, while dramatically reducing transportation-related petroleum consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Eligibility for this funding opportunity is restricted to U.S. Institutions of Higher Education (as defined in 20 U.S.C. § 1001, in accordance with 2 C.F.R § 200.55), and nonprofit research institutions that operate as a division under the U.S. Institutions of Higher Education. This restricted eligibility applies to both prime recipients and sub-recipients.

In 2016, BETO and VTO jointly funded a consortium of nine DOE national laboratories to begin a multi-year project in support of the Co-Optima initiative. Projects selected under this funding opportunity will complement the ongoing DOE national laboratory project and support the broader Co-Optima initiative. Recipients selected for funding are expected to interface with the national laboratory consortium throughout the performance of their projects.

The national laboratory project includes two parallel research thrusts: 1) improvement of near-term conventional spark-ignition engine efficiency; and 2) enabling the full operability of advanced compression ignition engines. The research cycle for each thrust includes identifying fuel candidates, understanding their characteristics and combustion performance, and determining market-transformation requirements—such as cost, GHG reduction, feedstock requirements, scalability, and infrastructure compatibility—while actively engaging with stakeholders and future collaborators.

DOE seeks proposals that address one or more of the following sub-topics:

  1. Fuel characterization and fuel property prediction
  2. Kinetic measurement and mechanism development
  3. Emissions and environmental impact analysis
  4. Impact of fuel chemistry and fuel properties on particulate emissions
  5. Small-volume, high-throughput fuel testing
  6. Additional barriers.

Co-optimized fuels and engines offer the opportunity to build on decades of advancements in both fuels and engines. Groundbreaking research in the last 10 years has identified combustion engine strategies that—especially if optimized to run on new fuels—would offer significantly higher efficiency and produce fewer engine-out pollutants than current engines. Today’s funding opportunity announcement (FOA) will advance the long-term objective of the Co-Optima initiative to accelerate widespread deployment of significantly improved fuels and vehicles (from passenger to light truck to heavy-duty commercial vehicles) by 2030.

The submission deadline for full applications is October 16, 2016, at 5 p.m. Eastern Time. To view the FOA, visit the EERE Exchange. To learn more about the FOA, participate in the Co-Optima FOA informational webinar on August 17, 2016, from 1-3 p.m. Eastern Time.