DOE to award up to $4M for medium/heavy-duty, on-road natural gas engine research

12 October 2017

The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced up to $4 million for research projects on medium- and heavy-duty natural gas engine technologies. (DE-FOA-0001813)

The objective of the new FOA is to address barriers to adoption of natural gas vehicles through early-stage research on medium- and heavy-duty on-road engine technologies. The programmatic goal is to enable natural gas engines that can cost-effectively achieve diesel-like efficiency while meeting current and future emissions standards.

A public workshop on natural gas vehicles was held at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory on 25 July 2017 to identify early-stage research needs for natural gas engines. Feedback from industry participants at the workship showed interest in low-TRL-level aspects of natural gas efficiency, as well as lubricant effects and advanced modeling. Both criteria air pollutants and GHG control are of interest for NG vehicles; feedback also suggested that research needs exist for addressing the unique NG challenges of methane conversion for all combustion strategies.

The workshop also identified several low- and medium-TRL research topics related to NG fuels and fuel systems which can increase the efficiency of medium- and heavy-duty NG vehicles.

The DOE’s Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) is seeking projects to address barriers to the adoption of natural gas vehicles through early-stage research. Projects competitively selected through this funding opportunity will complement additional early-stage research on medium- and heavy-duty natural gas engine technologies at DOE national laboratories.

Specifically, this topic addresses engine efficiency improvements, fuel system enhancements, and emission after-treatment technologies, which are barriers to the adoption of natural gas engine technologies.

CNG engine efficiency needs to be closer to that of diesel in order to improve the viability of natural gas fueled medium and heavy-duty trucks. There are significant barriers to achieving these efficiency levels that can be addressed with early-stage, low technology readiness level (TRL) research, including:

  • Fundamental experiments and modeling to understand fuel mixing and combustion for improved engine design.

  • Advanced ignition systems to enable highly-efficient dilute combustion.

  • Fundamental catalysis research for after-treatment solutions to meet emissions standards with advanced combustion technology.

Potential technologies include (but are not limited to) combustion strategies, engine subsystems, emission control systems, fuel systems, and controls. A complete engine development project is outside the scope of this effort, but engine subsystem research must have a plausible pathway to higher engine efficiency. Teams are encouraged to include medium- and heavy-duty vehicle or engine manufacturers but it is not required.

DOE anticipates making approximately 2-3 awards under this FOA. Individual awards may vary between $1,000,000 and $2,000,000 million.

The Department’s Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) funds early-stage, high-risk research to generate knowledge upon which industry can develop and deploy innovative transportation energy technologies that improve efficiency, lower costs for families and businesses, and increase the use of secure, domestic energy sources.