The scope of this review is to assess the progress in each of the technical areas, to comment on the overall adequacy and balance of the R&D effort, and to make recommendations that will help the Partnership meet its goals (see Chapter 1 for the statement of task for the committee). This Summary provides overall comments and a brief discussion of the technical areas covered more completely in the report and presents the committee’s main conclusions and recommendations.
Adequacy and Balance
The three previous NRC reports (NRC, 2005, 2008a, 2010) reviewed funding for the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership and the allocation of that funding between hydrogen-related and non-hydrogen-related activities. Generally speaking, those reports concluded that the balance between technologies was largely appropriate. However, in the Phase 3 report (NRC, 2010), it was noted that major shifts in emphasis and funding had occurred. It was and is the view of the committee that high-risk, potentially high-payoff R&D is an appropriate expenditure of government resources. However, recent economic conditions influence what the committee and the government consider “appropriate.” It is still believed by the committee that support for precompetitive research on long-term technologies such as the enablers for hydrogen to become a viable transportation fuel and the fuel cell R&D leading to affordable HFCVs is important and should be continued. At the same time, the committee continues to agree that government support for technologies that have impact both in the nearer and the longer terms, especially those that could transfer some of the required transportation energy from petroleum to biofuels or to the electric grid, is also appropriate.
Since the last review, distribution of the Partnership funding has shifted significantly, with the share for hydrogen-related activities having decreased continually from $200 million in fiscal year (FY) 2009 to $104 million in FY 2012. Over the same period, battery R&D funding in the VTP dedicated to U.S. DRIVE rose from $69 million to $90 million, and from $23 million to $31 million for advanced combustion R&D. The committee notes that other vehicle technologies receiving significant funding, such as more efficient electrical components and lighter-weight materials, would potentially benefit all future propulsion systems.
It is the view of this committee that, based on the current status and projected incremental improvements of existing technologies, none of them yet has the performance attributes and cost to dominate the market and to meet the goal of the large-scale replacement of petroleum use and the reduction of emissions. Therefore, it is appropriate to continue investing resources on the most impactful research and not to let resources dwindle so far as to be unable to sustain a critical mass required to support a robust decision on any technology. Thus, it is