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DOE Announces $16.5 million NGV R&D Funding Opportunity

On Friday March 1, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that as part of a broader $51.5 million transportation funding opportunity for trucks, off-road vehicles, and the fuels that power them it will provide $16.5 million for natural gas vehicle (NGV) related research and development (R&D). The effort overseen by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) is intended to not only “strengthen our energy security but also improve transportation affordability for our nation’s trucking industry – helping those who deliver American goods and those who use them,” according to the DOE’s press release. The $16.5 million intended for gaseous fuels research “includes multiple sub-topics, including novel materials for high density gas storage and transport, advanced waste to energy technologies, and technology integration that focus on lowering the cost of and overcoming technical barriers to the use of medium- and heavy-duty natural gas and hydrogen fueled vehicles.”
The DOE announcements also indicates that “the shift to natural gas, in particular with regard to medium- and heavy duty vehicle fleets, could result in increased profitability, improved supply chain performance, and reduced consumer costs for goods.”
Funding provided by this solicitation was included in the FY 2019 appropriations supported by NGVAmerica and enacted by Congress. This new funding opportunity compliments the $11 million funding opportunity announced in September of 2018 that focused on As part of this effort, NREL issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to award up to $11 million for projects that focus on reducing the cost natural gas vehicles, increasing vehicle efficiency, and advancing new innovative medium- and heavy-duty natural gas engine designs. In the past, DOE funding for natural gas R&D has played a critical role in improving technology and supporting the introduction of new medium and heavy-duty engines including the near-zero engine line-up of engines that is in operation today.
Organizations interested in participating in this funding opportunity must prepare and submit concept papers by March 29, and submit full applications by May 15.

The summary below includes highlights of the natural gas funding interests:

  • Advanced Storage for Gaseous Fuels
    o Research, develop, and demonstrate novel materials concepts that enable lower pressure gas storage systems with the potential to outperform current compressed 700 bar H2 or 250 bar NG systems on a cost and energy density basis.
    o Funding – $300,000 – $1 million per award
    o Total Funding – $6 million all awards
  • Waste to Energy
    o Develop solutions that make full and innovative use of biomass, municipally-derived biosolids, and sorted-municipal solid waste (MSW) feedstocks to advance the state-of-the-art in waste-to-energy, such as renewable natural gas. These materials can be employed as fuel for medium-/heavy-duty vehicles in the form of liquid fuels, or electricity. These materials include, but are not limited to, forest residues (notably, trees that have succumbed to environmental stresses); municipal sludges and biosolids; industrial, commercial, and residential organic wastes; fats, oils, and greases; yard trimmings; construction and demolition wastes; non-recyclable paper; and other non-recyclable organic components of MSW.
    o Applicants must develop technologies that reduce the levelized cost of energy by at least 25% and provide a justified benchmark for the state-of-the-art as part of their application.
    o Funding – $1.5 million – $3 million per award
    o Total Funding – $5 million all awards
  • Natural Gas Vehicle Maintenance Cost Study
    o Complete a comprehensive study that documents maintenance costs, technology solutions, or best practices capable of reducing maintenance or other related ongoing advanced storage.
    o Evaluating these costs for medium- and heavy-duty NGVs used in freight and goods movement, relative to equivalent base diesel models, including emissions after-treatment systems.
    o Funding – $300,000 – $500,000 per award
    o Total Funding – $500,000 all awards
  • Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Fuel Tank Affordability
    o Reduce the initial cost of CNG fuel tank systems for the nearer-term, resulting in lower total cost of ownership and improved affordability for NGVs. Specifically, research, develop, and demonstrate technologies and approaches that reduce both the initial cost of Type 3, Type 4, and Type 5 CNG fuel tank systems and the maintenance/replacement cost of those tanks, in order to reduce the total cost of ownership and improve NGV affordability.
    o Project activities of interest, include, but are not limited to, the following:
    •Directly address CNG tank design and manufacture;
    • Reduce the cost of fabricating and installing complex tank mounting systems and packages to include improved tank designs;
    • Enable automated CNG fuel tank diagnostic systems for service technicians that result in reduced inspection/maintenance costs; and
    •Develop reduced-cost CNG fuel tank designs for unique vehicles with shorter/limited useful life spans or reduced service duty needs, for which current CNG tanks may be over-designed.
    o Funding – $1 million – $2 million per award
    o Total Funding – $2 million all awards
  • Smart Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Refueling
    o New CNG fueling technology that optimizes the fill process could increase the amount of CNG that a tank can hold, improving vehicle range and/or allowing for fewer or smaller tanks, which would lower cost. Most large trucks have 5-7 natural gas tanks, which comprise the largest incremental cost for a natural gas vehicle. Technology that allows for even one less tank could reduce storage cost by 15% – 20%.
    o The objective of this area of interest is to develop and demonstrate “smart” CNG fuel tank and fueling system technologies that can increase the useable capacity of on-board CNG storage by 10% – 20%.
    o Funding – $1 million – $2 million per award
    o Total Funding $2 million all awards
  • Next Generation Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Driver Information Systems
    o Same description as above
    o Develop and demonstrate advanced CNG fuel gauges or other driver feedback systems that provide accurate “miles-to-empty” driver information in order to optimize and extend driving range and/or reduce the number or size of CNG fuel tanks needed onboard a vehicle. Projects must include on-road baseline testing in conjunction with on-road demonstrations to validate technology accuracy and vehicle performance impacts.
    o Funding – $500,000 – $1 million per award
    o Total Funding – $1 million all awards
    Additional details and information on this funding opportunity are available here: DE-FOA-0002044.