"By investing in next-generation vehicle materials and components, we are helping U.S. manufacturers improve the fuel efficiency of our cars and trucks and ensuring American companies remain at the cutting-edge of the global auto industry," said U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu. "Lighter, stronger materials will help improve the performance of our vehicles while saving families and businesses money at the pump."
The department acknowledged that replacing traditional components with lightweight materials, including advanced high-strength steel, magnesium, aluminum, and polymer composites, allows manufacturers to include additional safety devices, integrated electronic systems, and emissions control equipment on vehicles without increasing their weight.
The Energy Department intends to fund projects across three major areas of materials research and development, including developing modeling tools to deliver higher performing carbon fiber composites and advanced steels, as well as researching new lightweight, high-strength alloys for energy-efficient vehicle and truck engines. The specific research areas include:
Predictive modeling of carbon fiber composites to optimize the performance and cost-effectiveness of carbon fiber composite materials for vehicle body, chassis, and interior uses.
Predictive modeling of advanced steels to optimize the performance and cost-effectiveness of third-generation high strength steels for the vehicle body and chassis.
Advanced alloy development for automotive and heavy-duty engines: Projects selected in this area will develop low-cost, high-strength alloys for automotive and heavy duty engine blocks and cylinder heads.
The Energy Department will make up to $8.2 million available in fiscal year 2012 and an additional $6 million available in fiscal year 2013 to fully fund these advanced materials projects, which will take two to four years to complete.
The Department will accept applications from industry, national laboratories, and university led-teams to address these challenges and enable technologies that will drive innovation in vehicle design. Applications for the solicitation are due May 7, 2012. For more information and application requirements, please visit the Funding Opportunity Exchange website.