Technology Accelerates for Affordable Clean Vehicles
Electric vehicles, hybrids, and the cost and weight of compressed natural gas fuel cylinders are three areas targeted for breakthrough technologies by the government, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said at the Green Truck Summit.
Improvements to the internal combustion engine are also on the agenda, in a broad-based quest to improve fuel efficiencies by up to 30%. DoE has allocated $30 million to research innovative CNG tanks, Chu said here Monday. “If we can solve this, then CNG will become an alternative,” for the automobile industry, he said – with benefits for the clean truck industry too.
Calstart president and CEO John Boesel noted that Chesapeake Energy and 3M said last month that they will team to develop next generation CNG tanks that are up to 20% lighter with 20% more capacity, at a lower cost than today’s vessels.
For electric vehicles, there must be better batteries, Chu said, noting that last week a Silicon Valley start-up unveiled a lithium ion cell with a world-beating power density of 400 watt hours per kilogram, that could bring down the price to $125 per kilowatt hour. DoE had invested $4 million in that project.
(Testing of “next generation” lithium ion technology by Envia Systems was performed by the Electrochemical Power Systems Department at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Crane, Ind., Envia said last week, under the sponsorship of ARPA-E. ARPA-E is DoE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy. It is offering to fund new natural gas research work under an initiative dubbed MOVE, for Methane Opportunities for Vehicular Energy).
Today’s best lithium-ion batteries cost more than $300 per kilowatt-hour. “Our goal is for $125 per kilowatt-hour by the end of the decade” Chu said.
DoE is aiming for electric vehicles to achieve cost of use and ownership of just 22 cents per mile by 2020, comparable with a conventional vehicle in 2012, he said.