report recommendations also will help the Partnership with its focus over the next few years.
The role of the federal government in R&D varies depending on the administration and the Congress and the issues that they deem important for the nation to address. An extensive economics literature on the subject points to the importance of R&D to promote technical innovation, especially for research for which the private sector finds it difficult to capture the returns on its investment; this is especially true for basic research, the results of which can be broadly used. Such innovation, if successful, can foster economic growth and productivity, with improvements in the standard of living (Bernanke, 2011). Furthermore, in the energy area, the government generally has to confront issues of national security, environmental quality, or energy affordability. Many of these issues are addressed through policy initiatives or regulations, which place a burden on private firms to achieve. Thus there is a role for the federal government in supporting R&D not only to help the private sector achieve these policy goals but also to help U.S. firms remain competitive in the face of international competition.
The committee believes that the federal government plays an important role in the development of technologies that can help to address government policies and regulations aimed at reducing emissions and fuel consumption from medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. There are similar reasons for the government playing a role in R&D for light-duty vehicles as well. Such partnerships as the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles, the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership (which is now being replaced by U.S. DRIVE), and the 21CTP are examples of public-private efforts to support R&D and to develop advanced technologies for vehicles (NRC, 2001, 2010a,b). These partnerships generally include a variety of efforts (fundamental research, development, demonstration, and in some cases deployment). The federal government can support fundamental research through the national laboratories, and universities and industry can focus on development. The importance of having government-industry collaboration is that the private sector can help to transform improvements from research into cost-effective and marketable products. Generally, the contracting that is engaged in with the private sector is cost-shared, and those research contracts more closely associated with fundamental or basic research will have a majority of federal funding, whereas contracts with a strong development or product component will have significant support from the private sector. In its recommendations in each of the technical areas, the committee has considered what activities are most appropriate for the 21CTP to support. Implicit in all the recommendations that relate to the support of additional research, the committee believes that the federal government has a role in the R&D.
The committee held meetings to collect information through presentations on 21CTP activities by representatives of the four federal agencies involved in the Partnership, as well as individuals outside the program (see Appendix B for a list of the presenters and their topics). During the NRC Phase 1 review, the 21CTP had developed a roadmap and a series of white papers on the main technical areas that the Partnership had focused on (DOE, 2006); during the current, Phase 2 review the 21CTP was in the process of modifying these white papers. The white papers were very important to the committee in its information-gathering activities, because they provided the strategy, goals, and technical challenges from the viewpoint of the 21CTP for each of the technical areas under review. Drafts of the white papers were submitted to the committee in September 2010 (DOE, 2010c); updated versions were provided in March 2011 (DOE, 2011). A draft of a white paper for the new area, efficient operations, was submitted to the committee in March 2011. The committee provides feedback and suggestions to the 21CTP on this white paper in Chapter 9 of the present report.
To obtain clarifications on some aspects of the 21CTP, the committee sent written questions to 21CTP representatives and received very helpful answers in response. The committee also made site visits to Cummins Technical Center; Navistar Inc. Truck Development and Technology Center; Eaton Corporation’s Eaton Innovation Center; EPA; Oak Ridge National Laboratory; and the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC); each of the organizations visited are undertaking R&D under the 21CTP. The committee’s findings and recommendations are based on the information gathered during the study and on the expertise and knowledge of committee members.
Following is an overview of the topics covered in the rest of this report. Chapter 2 addresses the overall management strategy and priority setting of the Partnership. Chapter 3 addresses various engine programs at the DOE, the EPA, and DOD, discusses fuels and aftertreatment research, health-related research, high-temperature propulsion materials, as well as the High Temperature Materials Laboratory, a user facility run by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Chapter 4 focuses on hybrid vehicles. Chapter 5 addresses vehicle power demands, which are referred to by many as parasitic losses; they represent the power needed to overcome such resistive forces as aerodynamics, rolling resistance, and friction losses in the drivetrain, or to power auxiliary systems on a vehicle. Chapter 6 addresses idle reduction technologies for reducing fuel consumption and emissions during truck idle time. Chapter 7 deals with safety, which is mostly under the initiatives in the DOT. Chapter 8 addresses the newly established SuperTruck efforts that are focused on three major project teams. Finally, Chapter 9 offers some guidance on a new area for the 21CTP, efficient operations.