DOE expects good mileage out of $175 million in grant awards

  • 19-Aug-2011 08:58 EDT
Dow Kokam battery cells.jpg

Dow Kokam's prismatic battery cells employ advanced nickel metal cobalt technology. The company received approval for a DOE grant of just under $5 million.

The U.S. Department of Energy on Aug. 10 announced that it will invest $175 million in 40 projects to improve vehicle fuel efficiency. Grants to companies, academia, and other entities range from $26.4 million to less than $1 million. Grantees will contribute an additional $125 million to the projects, each of which falls into one of eight DOE-defined technology categories.

The largest chunk of funding, about $50 million, will go to 12 entities with projects in the area of "advanced cells and design technology for electric drive batteries." The largest of the awards goes to Penn State University, which will use the $5 million to develop a high-energy-density lithium-sulfur cell. The largest private-enterprise award in the category, at just under $5 million, will go to Amprius for development of next-generation high-energy Li-ion cells leveraging silicon anodes, "potentially doubling the capacity of start-of-the-art vehicle batteries," according to the DOE. Also receiving grants in this category, in order of grant size, are Dow Kokam, Applied Materials, Seeo, Nanosys, 3M, Miltec UV International, Johnson Controls, A123 Systems, Denso International America, and Optodot.

ECOtality, the Phoenix-based maker of charging stations for plug-in vehicles, won the largest individual grant, at $26.4 million to "test and evaluate early-production and pre-production light-, medium-, and heavy-duty advanced technology vehicles using a variety of fuels, energy storage systems, and propulsion systems." It was the only grantee in the "advanced vehicle testing and evaluation" category.

Amerigon, General Motors, and GMZ Energy are the only three grantees in the category "solid state thermoelectric energy conversion devices." Each will receive $8 million for work on technologies that capture, convert, and redeploy waste heat for improved vehicle efficiency.

Chrysler and Vehma International of America each will receive $10 million in the category "demonstration project for a multimaterial lightweight prototype vehicle."

Five entities—Metal Oxygen Separation Technologies (two awards), Zoltek, United States Automotive Materials Partnership, and Plasan Carbon Composites—will receive from $6 million to $2.5 in the category "lightweighting materials," for which about $19 million in grants will be disbursed. Subjects of research will be composites and magnesium.

General Motors is also an award winner in the category "advanced power electronics and electric motor technology." It will receive $6 million for development of high-performance, low-cost power module and inverter switching technologies. Other grantees in the category are General Electric, Azure Dynamics, and UQM Technologies.

About $10.5 million will be split among six grantees including the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, Ford (two), Wisconsin Engine Research Consultants, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (two), Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and UChicago Argonne for work in "advanced fuels and lubricants."

In the "fleet efficiency" category, four companies and one academic institution will receive between $1.5 million and $900,000 for work in tire technologies (Cooper Tire & Rubber, Goodyear Tire & Rubber, and PPG Industries) and driver feedback technologies (University of California - Riverside and Eaton).

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