DOE to Invest up to $20 Million for Plug-In Hybrid Research
September 25, 2007
DOE announced on September 25th that it will invest nearly $20 million in plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) research. PHEVs have the potential to displace a large amount of gasoline by delivering up to 40 miles of electric range without recharging—a distance that includes most daily roundtrip commutes. Five projects will be cost-shared with the United States Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC), allowing up to $38 million for battery research and development. The companies selected for the projects include EnerDel, Inc. in Indiana; A123Systems in Massachusetts; Compact Power Inc. in Michigan; 3M in Minnesota; and Johnson Controls – Saft Advanced Power Solutions in Wisconsin. The projects will focus on developing batteries and cells for 10- and 40-mile range PHEVs and building small cells to test new cathode materials.
In addition, the University of Michigan will receive nearly $2 million to explore the future of PHEVs in a two-year study conducted with DOE's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), General Motors, Ford Motor Company, and DTE Energy. The study will evaluate how PHEVs would share the power grid with other energy needs; monitor the American public's view of PHEVs and their driving behavior in such vehicles; assess the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions; and identify how automakers can optimize PHEV design to increase performance and reduce cost. See the DOE press release, the PNNL press Release, and the Draft Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle R&D Plan on the FreedomCAR and Vehicle Technologies Program Web site.
A number of other efforts are also aiming to advance PHEV technologies. In early September, Google.org—the philanthropic arm of Google Inc.—offered $10 million to for-profit companies that are working to advance PHEV technologies. Meanwhile, California's Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) announced that it is working with Tesla Motors to study the remote control of the charging of electric vehicles. Such "smart charging" could allow a utility to vary the electric charging load on its system in response to intermittent energy sources. In effect, electric vehicles would serve as a large energy storage system that utilities could direct energy to at times when ample supplies are available and the load on the electrical grid is low. See the Google.org and PG&E press releases.