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US Energy department announces $102.3M decarbonisation fund

Clara Nwachukwu

In demonstration of the resolve to promote zero emissions, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), announced a $102.3million fund for projects aimed at reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in automobiles and manufacturing sectors.

The funds were made public in two separate announcements last week by the DOE, the bulk of which – $60million is meant for 24 research and development projects to reduce CO2 emissions from passenger cars and light-and heavy-duty trucks.

The balance of $42.3 million is for new pilot projects for the American manufacturing sector that will reduce carbon emissions across the economy and improve America’s economic competitiveness.

Automobile decarbonisation

The DOG said on its official website ENERGY.GOV that the $60million transportation fund projects will help decarbonize the transportation sector and enhance the infrastructure needed to support the growing adoption of zero-emission vehicles—crucial to reaching the Biden-Harris Administration’s ambitious goal of a net-zero emissions economy by 2050.  

“Fossil-fuel powered cars and trucks are a leading cause of air pollution and carbon emissions, and that is why we are focusing on decarbonizing the transportation sector to achieve President Biden’s climate goals,” said Secretary of Energy, Jennifer M. Granholm. “Partnering with industry and leading research universities, DOE’s investment in these 24 projects will create technologies and techniques that will cut vehicle greenhouse emissions and boost America’s competitiveness in the global clean energy market.” 

The DOE noted that Transportation accounts for approximately 30% of total U.S. energy needs and generates the largest share of the country’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The projects, funded through DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Vehicles Technology Office (VTO), will therefore address the two largest contributors to transportation sector emissions: passenger cars and light-duty trucks, which account for nearly 60% of emissions and medium- and heavy-duty trucks account for nearly 25%.

Selected projects

Accelerate innovation in electric vehicle (EV) batteries and electric drive systems – Awardees across 12 projects valued at $28.1 million will focus on developing next generation lithium batteries with improved lifespan, safety, and affordability, improving the performance and durability of electrolytes that carry ions within batteries, and increasing the power density of electric drive systems. These advancements are expected to increase the useful life of EVs and enable more affordable, better performing vehicles.

The battery and electrification projects under this funding opportunity support the National Blueprint for Lithium Batteries’ goal of maintaining and advancing U.S. battery technology R&D leadership.  

Similarly, Ready new mobility systems technology for commercial and consumer use – Awardees across six projects worth $20.2 million will help develop a better understanding of new mobility technologies, particularly on how automated, connected, electric, and shared vehicle technology, like automated electric shuttles and connected vehicle/infrastructure technologies, interact with the larger transportation system.

Lesser value funds – $5.8 million for the development of lightweight materials to increase passenger and commercial vehicle efficiency; two projects ($5.1 million) are for the reduction of exhaust emissions while improving commercial vehicle engine efficiency; and $1 million for three projects that will improve understanding of energy use and environmental impact of new vehicle technologies. A part of this is to develop tools to understand charging infrastructure needs for medium- and heavy-duty electric vehicles and analyze environmental, cost, and energy impacts of infrastructure upgrades.

Manufacturing decarbonation

The DOE estimates that the industrial sector contributed 23% of all greenhouse gas emissions in 2019, as such, decarbonizing U.S. industries is a key step toward meeting President Joe Biden’s goal of a carbon-neutral economy by 2050.

 “Manufacturing is at the heart of the American economy – providing good-paying jobs and creating the products that we rely on in our everyday lives,” said Secretary of Energy, Jennifer M. Granholm. “With these investments, the Department of Energy is helping re-establish U.S. manufacturing leadership while scaling up the technologies needed to reduce our collective carbon footprint and address climate change.”

To this end, DOE announced the $42.3 million funding opportunity to support manufacturing innovations for high performance clean energy technologies to drive economy-wide reductions in carbon emissions.

According to the Department, areas of interest include:

  • Next-generation manufacturing processes that improve energy efficiency and reduce the carbon footprint of energy-intensive industries.
  • Development of novel materials that improve the energy efficiency of manufacturing processes and resulting products.
  • Improving the systems and processes for how energy is stored, converted, and used, including manufacturing of lithium-ion batteries to support electric vehicles.

DOE also selected five private-sector partners to each receive approximately $300,000 worth in technical assistance to test clean, efficient technologies in real-world industrial environments.

Fossil-fuel powered cars and trucks are a leading cause of air pollution and carbon emissions, and that is why we are focusing on decarbonizing the transportation sector. 

It is believed that these Industrial Technology Validation (ITV) projects will accelerate the adoption of cost-effective, emerging technologies that can help decarbonize the industrial sector. These reports will also be made publicly available to inform future energy-saving innovations.

The Department EERE’s mission is to accelerate the R&D, demonstration, and deployment of technologies and solutions to equitably transition America to net-zero GHG emissions economy-wide by no later than 2050.

The projects and work supported through EERE aim to ensure the clean energy economy benefits all Americans, creating good paying jobs for the American people—especially workers and communities impacted by the energy transition and those historically underserved by the energy system and overburdened by pollution.

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