Skip to main content

High-Performance Medium- & Heavy-Duty Vehicles

This is the November 2016 issue of the Transportation and Hydrogen Newsletter.

November 30, 2016

See a video of industry response to the award-winning Battery Internal Short-Circuit Device.

NREL Researchers Receive "Oscars" of Innovation
Two R&D 100 Awards, prestigious recognition of scientific and technological achievements, were recently bestowed upon NREL vehicle technologies researchers.

The Analytical category prize went to NREL's Battery Internal Short-Circuit Device developed by Matthew Keyser and Ahmad Pesaran from NREL's Energy Storage research group, along with collaborators at NASA. The newly patented device is a first for providing reliable data to determine how new battery designs, including lithium-ion batteries, can be safer.

The Information Technology/Electrical award went to Wolfspeed for the High-Temperature, Wide Bandgap Underhood Inverter developed with NREL, Toyota, and the University of Arkansas. Kevin Bennion, Sreekant Narumanchi, Gilbert Moreno, Paul Paret, and Doug DeVoto of NREL's Power Electronics and Electric Machines research group were part of the project. The wide bandgap inverter has the potential to make hybrid and electric vehicles more appealing to consumers.

New Standards for Trucks Anticipated to Save Owners $170 Billion

NREL data and analytic expertise provided the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with information crucial to making new truck fuel efficiency standards commercially feasible for industry. The EPA estimates that the new standards could save vehicle owners approximately $170 billion in fuel costs. Drawing on data stored in the Fleet DNA database, NREL developed a series of drive cycles and weighting factors representative of real-world acceleration rates, speed distributions, and idle times seen in commercial vehicle driving.

Guide Supports Growing Biodiesel Industry with Tips for All Members of Supply Chain

In 2015, U.S. consumption of biodiesel exceeded 2 billion gallons, and the biofuels industry employed 1.7 million workers. NREL's alternative fuels experts led an update of the Clean Cities Biodiesel Handling and Use Guide. The guide is an essential reference for fleet managers, individual users, blenders, and distributors that handle and use biodiesel/biodiesel blends in diesel engines.

Plug-In Hybrid Electric Transit Buses Offer Potential Efficiencies for Transit Operators

The market penetration of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles is on the rise, as is a range of charging technology options. A study compared a wireless-power-transfer-enabled plug-in hybrid electric bus (PHEB) to conventional and hybrid electric buses (HEBs). While the net costs of the PHEB and HEB were comparable, the PHEB fuel savings relative to the conventional bus were much higher—translating into significantly lower fuel demand for the transit agency.

Semi-Automated Truck Platooning Promises Significant Fuel & Cost Savings

Semi-automated platooning reduces aerodynamic drag by grouping vehicles together and safely decreasing the distance between them via electronic coupling. An NREL study revealed significant fuel savings for the lead and trailing trucks—up to 5.3% and 9.7%, respectively—which could significantly reduce operating costs over the hundreds of thousands of miles typically traveled by freight trucks in a given year. Recent follow-on work focused on real-world driving characteristics and platooning's effect on criteria emissions and engine-cooling air flow.

Thermal Package Reduces Rest Period Idling Heating Loads by as Much as 53%

As part of NREL's CoolCab project, researchers conducted a study on heat load reduction for long-haul truck sleeper cabs during rest period idling, which accounts for the costly use of 670 million gallons of U.S. fuel a year. With partners Volvo Group North America, Aearo Technologies, and PPG Industries, NREL developed a thermal load reduction package that uses ultra-white paint, advanced insulation, and advanced window shades for occupant comfort while demonstrating a 43%-53% reduction in peak heating loads.

Representative Drive Cycles Support Efficiency of Port Operations

More than $1.2 trillion in goods flowed through U.S. ports in 2015. To better understand the operational requirements of port drayage vehicles and their potential for utilizing advanced technologies, NREL is conducting a performance evaluation of electric and diesel drayage trucks. Researchers applied statistical clustering methods to real-world operations data to develop drive cycles representing various modes of operation. Related drive cycle data, which can help vehicle developers understand how drayage trucks are typically used, are available via NREL's Drive Cycle Analysis Tool.

Activity-Weighted Road Grade Profiles Support Emissions Certification Evaluation

NREL's in-depth analysis of the road grade-characteristics that medium- and heavy-duty trucks encounter on U.S. highways led to the development of nationally representative road-grade profiles for use in greenhouse gas certification evaluation and simulation at highway speeds. The analysis employed EPA vehicle-miles-traveled data as well a national road-grade database to generate statistics on road grade and hill distances for the U.S. network of controlled-access highways.

Learn more about NREL's Transportation RD&D including Fuels Performance and Hydrogen and Fuel Cells, as well as partnership opportunities.