Obama Announces New Funding to Develop Lightweight Materials for Advanced Vehicles

The White House have announced a new $14.2 million effort at the Department of Energy to accelerate the development and deployment of stronger and lighter materials for advanced vehicles.

The funding it’s hoped will help reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, save drivers money, and limit carbon pollution. This funding will support the development of high-strength, lightweight carbon fibre composites and advanced steels and alloys that will help vehicle manufacturers improve the fuel economy of cars and trucks while maintaining and improving safety and performance.

Replacing cast iron and traditional steel components with lightweight materials – including advanced high-strength steel, magnesium, aluminium, and polymer composites – allows manufacturers to include additional safety devices, integrated electronic systems and emissions control equipment on vehicles without increasing their weight. Using lighter materials also reduces a vehicle’s fuel consumption. For example, reducing a vehicle’s weight by 10% can improve the fuel economy by 6-8%.

The Energy Department intends to fund projects across three major areas of materials research and development, including developing modelling tools to deliver higher performing carbon fibre composites and advanced steels, as well as researching new lightweight, high-strength alloys for energy-efficient vehicle and truck engines.

Projects selected in this area of carbon fibre composites will validate modelling tools to optimise the performance and cost-effectiveness of carbon fibre composite materials for vehicle body, chassis, and interior uses.

The Energy Department will make up to $8.2 million available in fiscal year 2012 for selection under this funding opportunity announcement, and subject to congressional appropriations, the Department plans to make an additional $6 million available in fiscal year 2013 to fully fund these advanced materials projects, which will take 2-4 years to complete.

The Department is also accepting applications from industry, national laboratories, and university led-teams to enable technologies that will drive innovation in vehicle design. For more information and application requirements you can visit the Funding Opportunity Exchange Website, applications need to be in by May 7, 2012.