Energy Department Invests Millions in Alt-Fuel Transportation Research


The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is investing nearly $3.5 million in projects to advance medium- and heavy-duty natural gas vehicle (NGV) technologies. 

The announcement also includes $10.2 million in advanced methane storage, as well as waste-to-energy projects, which should benefit the NGV market, points out NGVAmerica. The investments are part of $50 million for research of technologies for trucks, off-road vehicles and the fuels that power them.

“These crucial investments made by the DOE publicly affirm the federal government’s belief that natural gas vehicles are an important part of our nation’s transportation mix yesterday, today and well into the future,” says NGVAmerica’s president, Dan Gage. “Natural gas is ready-right-now technology for all vehicle applications, and this investment further expands NGVs’ capability and reliability and increases their emissions- and carbon-free performance. When fueled by captured biomethane, natural gas truck and bus engines are the cleanest and most immediate solution for those seeking a net-carbon-negative fleet footprint.”

The NGV projects are highlighted below:

Natural Gas Vehicle Maintenance Cost Study
Clean Fuels Ohio, Columbus, Ohio
NGV U.P.-T.I.M.E. Analysis: Updated Performance Tracking Integrating Maintenance Expenses
Total Allocation: $500,000

Smart Compressed Natural Gas Infrastructure Projects
Gas Technology Institute, Des Plaines, Ill.
Smart CNG Station Deployment
Total Allocation: $1,999,789

Next Generation CNG Driver Information Systems
Gas Technology Institute, Des Plaines, Ill.
Next-Generation NGV Driver Information System
Total Allocation: $1,000,000

Advanced Storage of Gaseous Fuels 
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich.
Optimal Adsorbents for Low-Cost Storage of Natural Gas: Computational Identification, Experimental Demonstration, and System-Level Projection
Total Allocation: $1,000,000

Advanced Storage of Gaseous Fuels 
Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill.
Theory-Guided Design and Discovery of Materials for Reversible Methane and Hydrogen Storage
Total Allocation: $1,000,000

Advanced Storage of Gaseous Fuels 
University of Delaware, Newark, Del.
Methane Storage with Porous Cage-Based Composite Materials
Total Allocation: $918,500

Advanced Storage of Gaseous Fuels 
Montana State University, Bozeman, Mont. 
Heteroatom-Modified and Compacted Zeolite-Templated Carbons for Gas Storage
Total Allocation: $800,000

Advanced Storage of Gaseous Fuels 
Penn State University, University Park, Pa.
Developing New NG Super-Absorbent Polymer (NGSAP) for a Practical NG Storage System with Low Pressure, Ambient Temperature, and High Energy Density
Total Allocation: $895,065

Advanced Storage of Gaseous Fuels 
University of South Florida, Tampa, Fla.
Uniting Theory and Experiment to Deliver Flexible MOFs for Superior Methane (NG) Storage
Total Allocation: $800,000

Waste to Energy
North Carolina State, Raleigh, N.C.
Renewable Natural Gas from Carbonaceous Wastes via Phase Transition CO2/O2 Sorbent Enhanced Chemical Looping Gasification
Total Allocation: $2,499,461

Waste to Energy
Washington State University, Pullman, Wash.
Develop an Efficient and Cost-effective Novel Anaerobic Digestion System Producing High Purity Methane from Diverse Waste Biomass
Total Allocation: $2,234,051

The projects were funded through the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). The awards also include four battery-electric heavy-duty freight vehicle projects; three high-throughput hydrogen fueling technologies for medium- and heavy-duty transportation projects; two energy-efficiency commercial off-road vehicle projects; and three high-durability, low platinum group metal membrane electrode assemblies for medium- and heavy-duty truck projects.

Commenting on the $50 million in overall funding, Mark W. Menezes, under secretary of energy, says in a statement, “As the fastest-growing fuel users in the United States, it is important our trucking industry has access to advanced technologies, such as electrification and fuel cells, as a way to move goods efficiently and economically. EERE has a strong track record of successful investment in the research and development of a broad portfolio of technologies, including electrification, advanced combustion engines and fuels such as natural gas, hydrogen and biofuels, that can significantly improve the efficiency and reduce the cost of transportation energy. These selections reinforce DOE’s commitment to sustainable transportation options.”

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