Hot on the heels of the White House’s announcement that it is offering up $2.3 billion in clean energy manufacturing credits (and just in time for the Detroit Auto Show), the U.S. Department of Energy has announced that it plans to give $187 million to nine projects that hope to improve the fuel efficiency of cars and trucks. It may not be as flashy as last week’s clean energy funding announcement, but the fuel efficiency projects could be instrumental in bettering the fuel economy of standard vehicle engines.
The DOE is showering the worst offenders with the most funding, with $115 million going to projects for Class 8 “SuperTrucks”. Daimler Trucks received the most money in the SuperTruck category ($39,559,868) for a project that will work on engine downsizing, the electrification of oil and water pumps, waste heat recovery, and improved aerodynamics and hybridization.
In the light duty vehicle category, Ford and Cummins tied for first place with $15 million each. Ford’s project hopes to achieve a 25% fuel economy improvement with a gasoline engine in mid- to large-size sedans using a combination of engine
downsizing, turbo-charging, direct injection, and an exhaust
aftertreatment system. Cummins, on the other hand, wants to develop a fuel-efficient, low emissions diesel engine that offers a 40% fuel economy improvement over conventional gasoline technology.
$187 million may not be enough to radically overhaul vehicle engines, but the DOE knows that incremental improvements are critical in cutting down on emissions and oil consumption. It’s unlikely that the majority of drivers will own hybrids or all-electric vehicles in the next 10 years–in the meantime, we have to work with the good ol’ gasoline engine.