U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Energy Education & Workforce Development – EERE Postdoctoral Research Awards
The Vehicle Technologies Program is developing more energy efficient and environmentally friendly highway transportation technologies that will enable America to use less petroleum. The long-term aim is to develop "leap frog" technologies that will provide Americans with greater freedom of mobility and energy security, while lowering costs and reducing impacts on the environment.
Research Topics (1 Award)
V-201 Novel Chemistry Solvers for Engine Combustion Simulation
The DOE's Vehicle Technology Program (VTP) is committed to fostering innovation and adoption of efficient combustion engine technologies by its partners in the US automotive industry. To accelerate the pace of research, engine designers in industry and academia require predictive simulation tools that are capable of running on standard engineering computing resources (i.e. desktop workstations and small clusters). Well-resolved, three-dimensional engine simulations with fluid dynamics coupled to detailed chemical kinetics would require years of computational time on current engineering workstations to do an engine simulation using practical fuels (e.g. gasoline, diesel and biodiesels). Currently, the dominant cost in performing engine simulations with the large detailed chemical mechanisms representative of real fuels is the solution of the chemical kinetic system, which accounts for more than 99% of the total computational cost. The VTP has funded recent improvements in the chemistry solver algorithms that have reduced this computational cost by an order of magnitude; however, opportunities exist for substantially more speedup. Under this program, the VTP will seek research proposals to continue the development of novel chemistry solvers, with some consideration for fluid dynamics solvers capable of simulating species diffusion with a large number of species. Algorithm areas of specific interest include: on-the-fly eigenstructure analysis, model reduction with global error control, linear and nonlinear solvers, preconditioners for chemical systems, stiff integrators, hybrid explicit-implicit integrators and exponential integrators.
VT-202 Development of New Catalysts for Ammonia Selective Catalytic Reduction
More efficient internal combustion engines (ICEs) are one of the most promising and cost-effective approaches to improving the fuel economy of our nation's vehicle fleet in the near- to mid-term. To enable the market penetration of more fuel efficient vehicles, the Vehicle Technologies Program (VTP) within the Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy must develop advanced combustion engines that meet all current and anticipated future exhaust emission regulations; in particular, the effective control of nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particulate emissions remains a considerable technical challenge. A significant barrier to the development of cost-effective vehicle emission control technologies has been an incomplete fundamental understanding of, and practical experience with a new generation of catalyst materials and processes for "lean-burn" ICE emission control. For example, while considerable improvements continue to be made in so-called "3-way" catalysts that are suitable for today's "stoichiometric" gasoline engines, a technology that has been implemented for more than 30 years, new "Lean-NOx Trap" (LNT) and "Selective Catalytic Reduction" (SCR) technologies are only now seeing their first commercial implementation. As such, there is a need for significant improvements to these new "lean-burn" emission control technologies to greatly enhance performance while also reducing their cost and fuel efficiency penalties.
It has been widely and generally recognized that a coupled experimental and computational molecular modeling approach is needed to realize the type of improvements in catalyst materials and processes that are needed. Indeed, it is this type of approach that is expected to provide the next generation ("leap-frog") catalyst technologies that will enable the introduction of advanced, fuel-efficient ICEs. The DOE's VTP is interested in proposals from post-doctoral researchers to utilize such a coupled experimental/computational approach to explore high performance catalyst materials and processes for controlling NOx emissions from "lean-burn" ICEs.
For the transportation sector, friction accounts for the consumption of ~400 million barrels of oil annually. Specifically, approximately 10-15% of the energy generated in an internal combustion engine is lost to parasitic friction. Engine and powertrain parts like piston rings and cylinder bores, valve guides, cams and tappets, fuel injector pumps and plungers, transmission gearing, and face seals are all affected to some degree by friction. It is well recognized that the most cost-effective way of reducing energy consumption is through advancing the engine lubricant formulation. However, the 'easy' gains achievable through this approach with conventional lubricant formulations and additives have largely been achieved. Further improvements in fleet fuel economies of 3-5 % can be achieved by further reducing parasitic engine friction. This can be achieved through advanced lubricants and/or design changes to the engine that enable advanced lubricants. Such improvements will require a 'step-change' in both formulation components as well as in the entire formulation approach.
To enable the use of advanced lubricants in future and legacy vehicles, the Vehicle technologies Program within the Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy must develop and/or demonstrate advanced high-performance, low-friction lubricants that maintain engine reliability and durability, are compatible with after-treatment systems, and are cost-effective. Candidate lubricants/additives should provide reduced boundary friction properties (coefficient of friction < 0.1), must be compatible with existing lubricant technologies (either as a drop-in additive, or be functional in a re-formulated blend), must not harm after-treatment devices, and maintain or improve engine durability and reliability. Both experimental and theoretical approaches may be considered. Topics of interest include but are not limited to: ionic liquids, organic additives, metallo-organic additives, oil-insoluble (e.g. nano-additives) additives, dual-functional additives (friction modifying and anti-wear), dispersants/detergents, VI improvers, and high-VI base oils.
Under this program, DOE is interested in proposals from post-doctoral researchers to develop and/or demonstrate advanced engine lubricants. The successful candidate is expected to have completed their Ph.D. studies in Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Materials Science, or a related field.
VT-204 Power Electronics
To enable the market penetration of electric drive vehicles, the Vehicle Technologies Program within the Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy must develop advanced electric drive motors that meet strict performance and cost goals. Improving the alloy design and processing of permanent magnets can help meet these goals. While high performance magnets may be most readily achieved using rare earth based permanent magnets, the rising concerns over cost and foreign control of the current supply of rare earth resources has resulted in renewed interest in developing non-rare earth based permanent magnets alloys with performance metrics suitable for vehicle applications. Candidate materials must have saturation magnetizations in excess of 1 T and intrinsic coercivities in excess of 0.3T. The Curie temperature must be in excess of 300 °C. In addition the cost structure for the magnets must consistent with the use of 1~2 kg of material per motor. Under this program, research proposals to develop anisotropy in non-rare earth based materials will be considered. Both experimental and theoretical approaches may be considered. Topics of interest include grain aligned exchange coupled nanocomposites, self assembles structures, stabilization of non-cubic phases, and 3d-5d interactions.