The US Department of Energy (DOE) is providing funding for innovative research for transportation.
The DOE announced $50 million for new and innovative alternative fuel research and technologies for trucks and off-road vehicles. The funding will come from the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).
The DOE is prioritizing gaseous fuels research, hydrogen infrastructure and more.
The gaseous alternative fuel research being prioritized by the Department of Energy for this particular wave of funding includes natural gas, biopower and hydrogen. As for the technologies, priority is being placed on heavy-duty freight electrification, hydrogen infrastructure and fuel cell tech for heavy-duty applications, and energy efficient off-road vehicles.
“As the fastest growing fuel users in the United States, it is important our trucking industry has access to advanced technologies, such as electrification and fuel cells, as a way to move goods efficiently and economically,” said Under Secretary of Energy Mark W. Menezes in a recent DOE news release.
Menezes added that the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy has a reliable track record of successful investment in research and development of a wide portfolio of technologies, including advanced combustion engines, electrification, and fuels like hydrogen, biofuels and natural gas, all of which can dramatically enhance the efficiency and lower the cost of transportation energy.
“These selections reinforce DOE’s commitment to sustainable transportation options,” stated Menezes.
Alternative fuel research is needed to help the nation’s growing freight truck sector.
The movement of goods is necessary for economic growth, and at some point on their way from manufacture to consumer, almost all goods travel by truck. Trucks transport over 70% of the nation’s freight on both a value and tonnage basis, according to the DOE.
To move goods, this requires medium- and heavy-duty trucks (Class 3-8), which reportedly consume 25% of annual vehicle fuel use. This is a notable amount of energy considering these trucks account only for 4% of the total number of on-road vehicles in the United States.
As for off-road vehicles, these make up 8% of the total energy consumed in the US transportation sector and are utilized in key domestic industries. Among these industries include agriculture, construction and mining.
Additionally, according to projections from the US Energy Information Administration, the energy use by trucks will continue to grow, with the freight truck sector’s annual vehicle miles travelled to increase by 54% by 2050.
Alternative fuel research and enhancing technologies will no doubt go a long way in helping to support the growth of transportation energy.