Improved transportation technologies are essential for reducing U.S. petroleum dependence.
The United States consumes roughly 19 million barrels of petroleum per day, but replacing petroleum-based liquid fuels is difficult because of their high energy density, which helps to make long-distance travel practical. While biofuels and other alternative fuels show promise for reduced U.S. oil dependency, more efficient vehicles and advanced technologies will lead to deep reductions in U.S. petroleum use.
Designing Better Batteries for Electric-Drive Vehicles
NREL, U.S. auto manufacturers, and battery developers are partnering in a $20 million project to accelerate battery pack development, leading to the wider adoption of electric-drive vehicles. The Computer-Aided Engineering for Electric-Drive Vehicle Batteries collaboration is developing sophisticated software tools to improve and accelerate battery design and boost the performance and consumer appeal of electric-drive vehicles.
NREL and its partners are developing an innovative "flow" battery that will use organic liquids to store energy, pumping these liquids through an electrode to charge and discharge the battery. Large tanks of organic liquids could store more energy, resulting in longer vehicle range.
NREL has also joined the U.S. Department of Energy's new Manufacturing Innovation Institute for Next Generation Power Electronics, which is working to speed the development of wide bandgap technology for electronics. This could lead to electronics that perform better, are smaller, and cost less.
Thermal Management is Key to Performance
Keeping vehicle occupants comfortable uses lots of energy, reducing electric vehicle range up to 68% per charge. NREL's Vehicle Testing and Integration Facility puts vehicles through a thermal workout to evaluate energy-saving and comfort-optimization strategies. For example, NREL has shown that preheating or precooling an electric vehicle while it is still plugged in can significantly boost its driving range.