Department of Energy Announces $175 Million in Grants for Fuel-Economy Research

The Department of Energy announced it will provide $175 million in grants to help researchers improve vehicle fuel economy. The grants will support 40 projects over the next three to five years.

“The Department of Energy is investing in new advanced technologies that will significantly improve vehicle fuel economy, save consumers money, and create skilled jobs for Americans,” said DoE secretary Steven Chu. These technologies will become even more critical as automakers rush to meet the stricter fuel-economy regulations recently announced by President Obama.

The federal funding is intended to stimulate research into eight areas seen as key to improving vehicle fuel economy: finding advanced fuels and lubricants, development of lightweight materials, building a vehicle that weighs 50 percent less than a comparable car, advancing battery technology, improving electric motor designs, improving engine thermodynamic efficiency, strategies to improve economy in vehicle fleets, and a project to establish new testing and research facilities for advanced vehicles.

Much of the grant money is headed for engineering firms or research startups, but established automakers also received significant sums of money. Ford received $1.5 million to research fuels that can help reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides, and $1.2 million to develop a new type of engine oil that reduces friction even more than synthetic oils. Chrysler received $10 million to design, build, and demonstrate a vehicle that uses lightweight materials to cut its weight in half. General Motors received $6 million to develop new power invertors for electric and hybrid cars, and $8 million to develop thermoelectric generators which turn exhaust heat into electrical energy.

Source: Department of Energy