The White House on March 22 announced a $14.2 million DOE effort to accelerate the development and deployment of stronger and lighter materials for advanced vehicles. The initiative will help reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil and limit carbon pollution.
The funding will support the development of high-strength, lightweight carbon-fiber composites and advanced steels and alloys that will help vehicle manufacturers improve the fuel economy of cars and trucks while maintaining and improving safety and performance. Replacing cast iron and traditional steel components with lightweight materials allows manufacturers to include additional safety devices, integrated electronic systems, and emissions control equipment on vehicles without increasing their weight. Using lighter materials also reduces a vehicle’s fuel consumption. For example, reducing a vehicle’s weight by 10% can improve the fuel economy by 6%-8%.
DOE intends to fund projects across three major areas of materials research and development, including developing modeling tools to deliver higher performing carbon-fiber composites, doing the same for advanced steels, and researching new lightweight, high-strength alloys for energy-efficient vehicle and truck engines. The department will accept applications from industry, national laboratories, and university led-teams to address these challenges and enable technologies that will drive innovation in vehicle design. Applications are due May 7, 2012.