• New Initiatives Will Use Supercomputers to Improve Transportation Energy Efficiency

    Did you know, the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Laboratories are home to 32 of the fastest supercomputers on Earth? Scientists and researchers at the national labs use these supercomputers to accelerate research by creating models from complex data sets. Now, two new Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) initiatives—High Performance Computing for Mobility (HPC4Mobility) and Big Data Solutions for Mobility—will utilize the computing capabilities of the national labs to find solutions to real-world transportation energy challenges.

    These initiatives are part of VTO’s Energy Efficient Mobility Systems (EEMS) Program. The EEMS Program’s mission is to conduct early-stage research at the vehicle, traveler, and system levels to create knowledge, tools, and solutions that increase mobility for individuals and businesses while improving transportation energy efficiency.

    Big Data Solutions for Mobility

    VTO’s EEMS program has launched a $2 million multi-lab research initiative to develop new algorithms and big data tools that can model urban-scale transportation networks using real-world, near real-time data. The initiative will develop the data science approaches and HPC-supported framework for next-generation mobility systems modeling and operational analytics. This will deliver an understanding of transportation system efficiency opportunities that is not attainable with current approaches. Modeling informed by real-time data will allow transportation systems to respond to events such as accidents, weather, and congestion in such a way that optimizes the overall energy use of the system.

    The Big Data initiative includes researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory as well as partners from academia and industry.


    HPC4Mobility will provide cities, companies, transportation system operators, and others that qualify, access to national laboratory resources, including supercomputing facilities, data-science expertise, and machine-learning capabilities. These partnerships aim to discover opportunities for energy efficiency increases in mobility systems.

    This investment supports innovative and scalable HPC4Mobility projects. These projects will uncover opportunities for energy efficiency gains by applying high-performance computing resources to emerging transportation data sets. Initial VTO funding of $500K has been provided to the participating laboratories. Each selected external partner will provide in-kind cost-share contributions.

    The first year “seed” projects for HPC4Mobility include:

    • Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will work with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority on HPC-enabled computation of demand models at scale to predict the energy impacts of emerging mobility solutions. Possible applications include modeling the impact of autonomous vehicles on transportation energy use and the hour-by-hour impact of ride hailing services on traffic congestion.

    • Oak Ridge National Laboratory will work with GRIDSMART Technologies, Inc. on reinforcement learning-based traffic control approaches to optimize energy usage and traffic efficiency.

    For more information, see the full EERE blog.

  • Webinar and Handbook Offer Guidance for CNG Vehicle Maintenance Facilities

    Since the start, natural gas vehicles have maintained an impressive safety record—in large part due to stringent industry codes and standards that have governed use of the fuel. Compressed natural gas (CNG) codes deal not only with the vehicles, but also with the design and use of vehicle maintenance facilities. All CNG-related codes are periodically re-evaluated, tested, and clarified to continue that legacy of safety.

    Though industry information regarding CNG vehicle maintenance facility safety requirements exists, it has been difficult for fleets to locate and decipher. To combat this the U.S. Department of Energy’s Technology Integration program published a first-of-its-kind guidance document—the Compressed Natural Gas Vehicle Maintenance Facility Modifications Handbook—which covers all aspects of indoor CNG vehicle maintenance facility protection.

    “This document involved strong collaboration with industry,” said NREL’s John Gonzales, a co-author of the Handbook. “It will help fleet and facility managers better understand the steps necessary to upgrade their facility safely when introducing natural gas vehicles into their fleet.”

    The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), which authored the report on behalf of the program, recently hosted an accompanying webinar—now available as a video—covering topics included in the handbook and how to put this guidance to use.

    Facilities that maintain CNG vehicles are faced with a different set of hazards than facilities dealing with conventional liquid fuels, such as gasoline and diesel, where liquid spills are dealt with near the floor. Because natural gas is lighter than air and rises to the ceiling, facilities that handle CNG must be designed differently to account for the unique properties of natural gas and protect against ignition of gas releases.

    The handbook empowers managers to evaluate their facility in order to understand the physical modifications or changes in operating protocols necessary to be in compliance with codes. It also presents recommendations for working with local codes officials, and discusses the specific protocols and training needed to ensure the safety of personnel and facilities.

    To learn more, watch the recording of the Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Vehicle Maintenance Facility Modifications webinar featuring speakers from Sandia National Laboratories, NREL, and Gladstein, Neandross & Associates.

    For more information, download the full Compressed Natural Gas Vehicle Maintenance Facility Modifications Handbook.

  • 4 Tips to Improve Electric Vehicle Battery Range this Winter

    Electric vehicle (EV) batteries charge by moving ions through a liquid electrolyte. As the temperatures outside drop, the electrolyte in lithium ion EV batteries thickens and it becomes more difficult for ions to move through (much like the challenge of walking through snow versus dry pavement). This increased resistance results in less EV battery range as more energy is needed for each ion to move. Fortunately, there are things you can do to stay warm and improve your EV range.

    Follow these four tips to get the most out of your EV battery this winter:

    1. Warm the battery/cabin while your vehicle is still plugged in. By leaving your vehicle plugged in, you use electricity from the grid to get it warmed up, rather than drawing energy from your battery. Once you hit the road, there’s more battery charge left available for driving.

    2. Use your vehicle’s heated accessories. Heated accessories (steering wheel, seats, etc.) use less energy than heating the entire cabin. In addition, the warmth on your backside and fingers can minimize the amount of cabin heat needed to make you and your passengers feel comfortable.

    3. Practice eco-driving. Using eco-driving techniques can help get the most out of your range all year round. Some eco-driving tips include watching your speed, minimizing hard starts, and maximizing your regenerative braking by coasting when possible and depressing the brake pedal gradually, when needed. Visit FuelEconomy.gov for more EV eco-driving tips.

    4. Be sure to brush off your car before driving. Snow or ice on your vehicle adds extra weight that your battery has to drag along and increases aerodynamic drag by changing your vehicle’s profile. Since EVs don’t produce waste heat from the engine, snow on your hood will stay put if you don’t brush it off before your start your trip.

    Use these simple tips to stretch your EV range this winter. To learn more about electric vehicle, visit the Alternative Fuels Data Center’s Hybrid and Plug-In Electric Vehicles section.

    This post originally appeared on Energy.gov.

  • 2018 Fuel Economy Guide Helps Consumers Save Money

    Just in time for the New Year, the 2018 Fuel Economy Guide is now available at FuelEconomy.gov. The guide is published annually by the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and offers data on current model year (MY) vehicles.

    This year’s guide provides fuel economy ratings for more than 1,000 light-duty vehicles, along with projected annual fuel costs and other information for prospective purchasers. The guide, available in an electronic-only format this year, is designed to help car buyers choose the most fuel-efficient vehicles that fit their needs.

    The MY 2018 Fuel Economy Guide includes fuel economy information for plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles and details fuel economy leaders across several vehicle classes. Data is updated regularly as manufacturers provide additional information about MY 2018 vehicles.

    For more information, see the full Energy.gov blog.

  • Study Captures Consumers’ Pulse on Plug-In Electric Vehicle Preferences

    How far must a plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) travel on a single charge for someone to consider purchasing one? Does a person’s age or geographic region affect the likelihood that they would buy a PEV? What percentage of consumers are aware of electric vehicle charging station locations near their home or work?

    A new report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, The Barriers to Acceptance of Plug-in Electric Vehicles: 2017 Update, aims to provide current insights on these questions and more. The report details the findings of a study into the American public’s sentiments on plug-in electric vehicles. The study, conducted in February 2017, covered a 1,017-household sample designed to be representative of the U.S. population. This is the third in a series of annual studies tracking consumer attitudes toward plug-in electric vehicles.

    Consumer Views Quick Facts

    • 58% of respondent households owned two or more vehicles.
    • 42% of respondents stated their next vehicle purchases would likely be sedans.
    • 46% of respondents were able to name a specific PEV make and model.
    • 24% of respondents stated they would consider or expect to purchase plug-in hybrid electric vehicles for their next vehicle purchase or lease.
    • 47% of respondents would consider purchasing an all-electric vehicle, if the vehicle was able to travel 300 miles on a single charge.
    • 54% of respondents could consistently park their vehicles near electrical outlets at home.

    The study revealed that respondents who were aware of plug-in electric vehicle charging stations were more likely than respondents overall to view PEVs positively and be willing to consider purchasing them. In addition, respondents in the West and Northeast census regions were more likely to consider purchasing a PEV. For more insights, read the full NREL report funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Office.

  • New Resources Offer Insights for Tackling Transportation Project Challenges

    Preparing to launch a new transportation project can be daunting, especially when the stakes—and the likelihood of encountering challenges along the way—are high.

    Two new technical reports from the Vehicle Technologies Office’s Technology Integration program aim to increase project success by providing stakeholders with insights into anticipating, mitigating, and avoiding common problems.

    Designing a Successful Transportation Project: Lessons Learned from the Clean Cities American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Projects

    This report summarizes project design and administrative considerations for conducting a successful transportation project. The findings presented in the report were garnered from interviews with principle investigators and nearly 50 Clean Cities coalitions involved in past transportation projects.

    What Fleets Need to Know About Alternative Fuel Vehicle Conversions, Retrofits, and Repowers

    There are a variety of options on the market for converting a new vehicle to run on alternative fuels or retrofitting an existing vehicle. Converting, retrofitting, or repowering a vehicle can result in long term return on investment while helping fleet managers achieve sustainability goals. This report provides guidance on technology options and considerations for fleets pursuing these options. It also provides best practices for selecting and working with project partners, service providers, and reputable vendors.

    These resources can inform management practices and successful implementation of new clean transportation projects.

  • Hydrogen Fuel Cell Supply Chain Expansion through the Hydrogen Fuel Cell Nexus Directory

    The U.S. Department of Energy’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office and Virginia Clean Cities (VCC) will present a live webinar titled “Hydrogen Fuel Cell Supply Chain Expansion through the Hydrogen Fuel Cell Nexus Directory”. VCC coordinators will provide an overview of the national business website, or directory, allowing individuals to rapidly find hydrogen and fuel cell supply chain specific businesses. Additionally, VCC coordinators will discuss the methods of expanding content and adding businesses or products to the directory. There will be a live Q&A session at the end of the presentation.

    Registration is required. To attend, register here.