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NREL Awarded $1.6 Million to Accelerate Development of Plug-In Electric and Propane Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicles

January 9, 2017

The Energy Department (DOE) recently announced the award of funding to accelerate the development and deployment of alternative vehicle and fuel technologies, including $1.6 million for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to support three projects led by industry partners Blossman Services, Blue Bird Body Company, and Odyne Systems, LLC. NREL will support these partners in advancing electric-drive and propane fuel technologies for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles.

NREL will provide these projects with expertise vital to the development of:

A 4.3-liter propane direct injection engine and emission control system for package delivery vehicles to improve performance and efficiency (Partner: Blossman Services). NREL will develop and calibrate propane engine hardware, assess vehicle-level performance and emissions, analyze in-use fleet operation with United Parcel Service, and integrate new engine technology with Autonomie vehicle simulation.

A battery-powered electric school bus that improves propulsion energy efficiency by 20%-30% and can connect to the electric grid (Partner: Blue Bird Body Company). NREL will help define the operational duty cycle of the bus to optimize on-board energy storage and electric propulsion design, assess the vehicle's in-use operation, and validate grid-connected operations using the lab's Energy Systems Integration Facility.

Class 7 plug-in hybrid work trucks that reduce fuel consumption by more than 50% and eliminate fuel consumption during stationary operations (Partner: Odyne Systems). NREL will contribute to the development of the advanced hybrid system by creating operational duty cycles, evaluating vehicles on one of the few heavy-duty chassis dynamometers in the country, and analyzing the vehicles during commercial operation. 

NREL is partnering with industry leaders on three of the five projects announced by DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Other awards will fund the development of electric highway corridors and alternative fueling stations.

NREL is a recognized, national leader in conducting real-world performance evaluations of advanced medium- and heavy-duty fleet vehicles.

Learn more about NREL's Transportation research.