More than 90 percent of transportation relies on petroleum-based fuels: gasoline and diesel. While alternative fuels and plug-in electric vehicles offer great promise to reduce America's petroleum consumption, petroleum-based fuels are likely to play a substantial role for years to come. However, the sources of these petroleum-based fuels are changing, with more fuels than ever from unconventional sources. Canada, which is the United States' largest foreign supplier of crude oil, is currently getting more than half of its petroleum from oil sands.

Co-Optima National Lab Participants:

Argonne National Lab

Idaho National Lab

Lawrence Berkeley National Lab

Lawrence Livermore National Lab

Los Alamos National Lab

National Renewable Energy Lab

Oak Ridge National Lab

Pacific Northwest National Lab

Sandia National Lab

In addition, new advanced combustion engines are particularly sensitive to variations in fuel composition. The Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) supports research into fuels to enable more efficient engines and more effective emissions control systems that improve fuel economy and reduce emissions. Much of this research can also provide insight into how biofuels' unique properties can affect these engines and systems. 

Currently, VTO is supporting the Co-Optimization of Fuels and Engines Initiative. Over the course of this multi-year initiative, VTO and the Bioenergy Technologies Office are supporting research and development to concurrently accelerate the introduction of affordable, scalable, and sustainable biofuels along with high-efficiency, low-emission vehicle engines. This coordinated research and development effort brings together nine Department of Energy national laboratories and numerous industry and academic partners to integrate the research areas of biofuels, combustion, and analysis. The Co-Optimization initiative has three concurrent phases of research and development: 

  • Optimizing spark ignition (SI) fuels and engines for near-term effect
  • Developing fuels and engines to enable advanced compression ignition (CI) technologies needed for revolutionary long-term solutions, and
  • Developing and applying analysis tools to assess the economic and environmental impact of the proposed technologies.