Executive Summary

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy oversees the Office of Transportation Technologies, which includes the Office of Heavy Vehicle Technologies (OHVT), the Office of Advanced Automotive Technologies (OAAT), the Office of Fuels Development, and the Office of Technology Utilization. OHVT was created in March 1996 when the Office of Transportation Technologies was reorganized. Its sister organization, OAAT, focuses on the development of advanced automotive technologies, while OHVT focuses, for the most part, on technologies for trucks. The mission of OHVT is “to conduct in collaboration with our heavy vehicle industry partners and their suppliers, a customer-focused national program to research and develop technologies that will enable trucks and other heavy vehicles to be more energy efficient and capable of using alternative fuels while simultaneously reducing emissions.”

Fuel use for all classes of trucks is increasing faster than for automobiles. If current trends persist, fuel consumption in 2020 will be approximately 4 million barrels (bbl)/day (oil equivalent) for automobiles, 4.5 million bbl/day for Class 1 and 2 trucks (pickup trucks, vans, sport utility vehicles [SUVs]), and about 3 million bbl/day for Class 3 through 8 trucks.1 By 2020, therefore, trucks will dominate on-highway fuel consumption, consuming about twice as much fuel as automobiles in the United States.

As national priorities have been focused both on reducing fuel consumption and improving air quality, attention has increased on reducing emissions from many types of vehicles, including light-duty, medium-duty, and heavy-duty diesel-powered vehicles. Meeting the recently promulgated (and proposed) emission standards and simultaneously increasing fuel economy will pose especially difficult challenges for diesel-powered vehicles and will require the development of new emission-reduction technologies.

In response to a request from the director of OHVT, the National Research Council formed the Committee on Review of DOE's Office of Heavy Vehicle Technologies to conduct a broad, independent review of its research and development (R&D) activities. This Executive Summary includes the committee's major findings and recommendations. Findings and recommendations for specific technical programs can be found in the body of the report.

MAJOR FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

The committee recognizes that the managers of the OHVT program have many constraints on how they can distribute resources for research. Laws passed by Congress related to the program must be implemented; fuel prices or emission or safety standards may change; and policies can be changed, which might require that programs be reoriented. In light of these constraints, the committee focused on recommendations for improving the chances that the technologies under development will meet the goals of the program and, in the long term, will be commercially successful.

To date, OHVT has responded responsibly to congressionally mandated legislation. In addition, OHVT follows the legislative process closely and has provided Congress with the technical information it needs to make reasonable decisions. The committee applauds cooperative activities with other DOE programs and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to address the issue of sulfur levels in diesel fuel. OHVT has also successfully reached out to its stakeholders and industry to identify needs and develop a technology road map to meet the challenges facing heavy-duty diesel-engine technologies and leverage its budget. In the past year, OHVT has also made a significant effort to reach out to other stakeholders and industries that are important to

1  

The gross vehicle weight of Class 1 trucks is 6,000 lbs or less; Class 2 trucks range from 6,001 to 10,000 lbs; Class 3 through Class 8 trucks weigh more than 10,001 lbs.



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Review of the U.S. Department of Energy's Heavy Vehicle Technologies Program Executive Summary The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy oversees the Office of Transportation Technologies, which includes the Office of Heavy Vehicle Technologies (OHVT), the Office of Advanced Automotive Technologies (OAAT), the Office of Fuels Development, and the Office of Technology Utilization. OHVT was created in March 1996 when the Office of Transportation Technologies was reorganized. Its sister organization, OAAT, focuses on the development of advanced automotive technologies, while OHVT focuses, for the most part, on technologies for trucks. The mission of OHVT is “to conduct in collaboration with our heavy vehicle industry partners and their suppliers, a customer-focused national program to research and develop technologies that will enable trucks and other heavy vehicles to be more energy efficient and capable of using alternative fuels while simultaneously reducing emissions.” Fuel use for all classes of trucks is increasing faster than for automobiles. If current trends persist, fuel consumption in 2020 will be approximately 4 million barrels (bbl)/day (oil equivalent) for automobiles, 4.5 million bbl/day for Class 1 and 2 trucks (pickup trucks, vans, sport utility vehicles [SUVs]), and about 3 million bbl/day for Class 3 through 8 trucks.1 By 2020, therefore, trucks will dominate on-highway fuel consumption, consuming about twice as much fuel as automobiles in the United States. As national priorities have been focused both on reducing fuel consumption and improving air quality, attention has increased on reducing emissions from many types of vehicles, including light-duty, medium-duty, and heavy-duty diesel-powered vehicles. Meeting the recently promulgated (and proposed) emission standards and simultaneously increasing fuel economy will pose especially difficult challenges for diesel-powered vehicles and will require the development of new emission-reduction technologies. In response to a request from the director of OHVT, the National Research Council formed the Committee on Review of DOE's Office of Heavy Vehicle Technologies to conduct a broad, independent review of its research and development (R&D) activities. This Executive Summary includes the committee's major findings and recommendations. Findings and recommendations for specific technical programs can be found in the body of the report. MAJOR FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS The committee recognizes that the managers of the OHVT program have many constraints on how they can distribute resources for research. Laws passed by Congress related to the program must be implemented; fuel prices or emission or safety standards may change; and policies can be changed, which might require that programs be reoriented. In light of these constraints, the committee focused on recommendations for improving the chances that the technologies under development will meet the goals of the program and, in the long term, will be commercially successful. To date, OHVT has responded responsibly to congressionally mandated legislation. In addition, OHVT follows the legislative process closely and has provided Congress with the technical information it needs to make reasonable decisions. The committee applauds cooperative activities with other DOE programs and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to address the issue of sulfur levels in diesel fuel. OHVT has also successfully reached out to its stakeholders and industry to identify needs and develop a technology road map to meet the challenges facing heavy-duty diesel-engine technologies and leverage its budget. In the past year, OHVT has also made a significant effort to reach out to other stakeholders and industries that are important to 1   The gross vehicle weight of Class 1 trucks is 6,000 lbs or less; Class 2 trucks range from 6,001 to 10,000 lbs; Class 3 through Class 8 trucks weigh more than 10,001 lbs.

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Review of the U.S. Department of Energy's Heavy Vehicle Technologies Program the trucking industry. The committee commends OHVT on its systematic approach to its R&D program. As a result of outside constraints, such as stakeholder interests and the congressional budget process, OHVT has changed the focus of its research in several areas toward shorter term development. Funding for R&D in fiscal year 1999 reflects this change: 72 percent for projects by industry; 18 percent for projects at the national laboratories; 4 percent for projects at universities; and 6 percent for projects by others (e.g., small businesses, states, etc.). Nevertheless, OHVT has documented, and the industrial experience of committee members suggests, that because it takes approximately eight years from the start of a research program to the appearance of its results in commercial production, long-term interests of the United States would be best served if OHVT directs most of its R&D toward long-term goals. A Go/No Go decision-making framework for planned R&D would make it easier for OHVT to set priorities and reorient programs in response to changing circumstances to keep them focused on longer term program goals. As multinational corporations expand, international trade increases, and global transportation knits the global economy together, industry will increasingly operate in a global marketplace. At the same time, the cost of petroleum is expected to increase, although it is difficult to predict how much or how quickly, and transportation costs will remain a significant factor in production costs in modern economies. Transportation emission standards in the industrialized world are becoming more stringent in general, although there are no uniform global emission standards or test procedures for vehicles. Therefore, the trade-off of reducing fuel economy to meet new emission standards will become increasingly important. Thus, emission standards and global competitiveness are related both to the cost of moving goods and the cost of importing and exporting vehicles. To maintain the competitiveness of U.S. industry, and because emission standards are government mandated, government and industry must work together to achieve optimum levels of fuel consumption and environmental standards. Finding 1. Energy and environmental policies, as well as emission standards, are continually changing in response to factors beyond the control of the Office of Heavy Vehicle Technologies (OHVT). Consequently, goals, objectives, and timetables for research and development (R &D) can become outdated. For example, an R&D program designed to achieve lower emission levels will be of little practical use for initial production vehicles unless the R&D is completed significantly in advance of new standards (i.e., in time for the results to be used in production vehicles). (However, new technologies could be brought on line for later vehicle models.) Recommendation 1. The Office of Heavy Vehicle Technologies (OHVT) should modify its program goals to reflect a time horizon of eight years or more. The longer time frame would allow industry time to incorporate research results into products, universities to contribute more significantly to solving problems, and OHVT to adjust the balance of its resources to support research by industry, the national laboratories, and universities. OHVT should revise its existing programs to ensure that the basic technical information produced by individual programs will be available at least three years before the technology is scheduled for commercial production. The revised mix of programs, which should be implemented by fiscal year 2003, will shift the emphasis to new advanced technologies and away from near-term development. Finding 2. Both light-duty and heavy-duty vehicles will require improved energy efficiency with minimum adverse environmental effects and competitiveness in a global economy. Meeting these often-conflicting goals will require that government and industry work together. The Office of Heavy Vehicle Technologies (OHVT) is successfully working with industry and other stakeholders to meet these challenges. However, the committee did not see much evidence that OHVT has established a Go/No Go decision-making process for evaluating and dealing with technical show-stoppers at critical milestones. Recommendation 2. Office of Heavy Vehicle Technologies (OHVT) programs should be updated annually, and program strategies and priorities should be reassessed. New programs should have a long-term focus. In addition, OHVT should implement a Go/No Go decision-making framework to keep OHVT programs focused on program goals, to establish or modify priorities and to change directions, as necessary. The diesel engine is the most efficient, economical power plant available today for trucks. As integrated emissions-control technology advances, the diesel engine can be increasingly optimized to its duty cycle. From the perspective of efficiency, and therefore fuel savings, the diesel engine could play a key role in reducing the rate of increase of petroleum use in the United States. However, the fuel economy benefit of the diesel engine will not be realized unless emission standards can be met. With present technologies, both the gasoline engine and the diesel engine will require exhaust-gas after-treatment to meet the projected emission standards for 2007–2010. Therefore, OHVT programs must be sharply focused on meeting future emission standards. Finding 3. The most critical barrier to improving fuel economy is the emission of oxides of nitrogen and particulate matter. Current activities are spread across too many areas and not focused on overcoming this critical barrier. Given the available resources, a smaller number of carefully chosen projects would be more productive.

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Review of the U.S. Department of Energy's Heavy Vehicle Technologies Program Recommendation 3. The Office of Heavy Vehicle Technologies (OHVT) should reevaluate its priorities and increase its support for projects focused on overcoming the most critical barriers to success. For example, meeting emissions standards will be critical to OHVT's program on advanced combustion engines. Therefore, emissions should be a major focus of this program. In addition, OHVT must be more proactive and forward thinking in anticipating future emission standards and should focus on improving the understanding of physical and chemical characteristics of emissions. In anticipation of more stringent emissions standards than are currently planned by the Environmental Protection Agency, OHVT should undertake technology-forcing research. To meet future emission standards, particularly for oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and particulate matter (PM), some proposed exhaust-gas after-treatment technologies will require a low sulfur fuel to improve NOx conversion efficiency. Sulfur compounds in the exhaust gas may also contribute to the formation of ultrafine exhaust particles. Automotive manufacturers prefer very low levels of sulfur (5 parts per million [ppm]) to benefit automotive emissions-control systems; the petroleum industry has suggested a standard of 30 ppm (average) and a 50 ppm (maximum) limit to control increases in fuel costs and avoid supply problems. EPA has a proposed regulation for sulfur concentration in diesel fuel of 15 ppm. Finding 4. Regulations are being considered to reduce the levels of sulfur in fuel used for on-highway diesel vehicles. The sulfur levels for some current after-treatment technologies, such as NOx traps, will have to be very low and could require sulfur traps that would have to be changed periodically. Some technologies, such as selective catalytic reduction, are less sulfur sensitive but require the addition of a reductant (e.g., urea). Consequently, the economic trade-offs between sulfur levels in fuel and after-treatment technologies will be an important consideration in the development of cost-effective emission-control systems. Recommendation 4. The Office of Heavy Vehicle Technologies should place a high priority on integrated emissions-control technology (engine combustion and after-treatment technologies) to meet future emission requirements. Research and development (R&D) should be focused on sulfur-tolerant catalysts, sulfur traps, and selective catalytic reduction, for diesel fuel with sulfur levels of 5 to 50 parts per million. R&D should be focused on both experimental work and modeling related to basic in-cylinder combustion and after-treatment technologies. Because fuel consumption by light trucks and SUVs is increasing, “dieselization” for light trucks and SUV markets makes sense. Indeed, dieselization is a significant part of OHVT's program. However, if the diesel engine cannot meet emission standards, it will not be a viable alternative for this market segment. Although OHVT's program is focused on addressing the technical barriers to meeting emission standards with diesel engines, OHVT should also keep abreast of progress on other engine types that could meet emission standards more easily, although with poorer fuel economy (e.g., the gasoline engine). Finding 5. The Office of Heavy Vehicle Technologies (OHVT) is actively involved in 50/50 cost-share projects with Cummins-DaimlerChrysler, Detroit Diesel-DaimlerChrysler, and Caterpillar-Ford to develop a competitive Class 2 diesel truck engine for use in sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and light trucks. OHVT's funding is being used to facilitate interactions between the heavy-duty engine industry and automotive manufacturers, and research on these projects is being done solely by the partnering companies. The proprietary results will be protected from public disclosure for five years. Therefore, the committee found it difficult to assess the scope and focus of OHVT's light-duty engine program. There was some indication, however, that one of the companies in the program is working on technologies that could be incorporated into hardware components for a Class 1 or Class 2 light-duty truck engine. The committee supports OHVT's promotion of industry research on promising, high-risk approaches to configuring engine emission-control systems that could facilitate the introduction of more fuel-efficient engines into the light-truck and SUV market. However, the committee does not endorse the use of OHVT funds to support specific engine or component development programs by industry. Recommendation 5. The committee believes it appropriate for the Office of Heavy Vehicle Technologies (OHVT) programs to provide basic technical information (e.g., improved understanding of physical processes, new and/or improved system optimization and control techniques, etc.) that will promote more fuel-efficient engine-emission systems by the private sector for the light-truck and sport utility vehicle market. OHVT should evaluate the effectiveness of its 50/50 cost-share programs with industry to determine if they are creating needed basic information. OHVT should not support the development of a specific engine or component. Some of the biggest improvements in the overall fuel efficiency of heavy-duty trucks can be achieved by improving aerodynamics, using lightweight materials, and decreasing rolling resistance. Aerodynamic losses for all trucks can be large (e.g., at 70 mph on a level road, roughly 65 percent of the power requirements are attributable to aerodynamic drag). For trucks limited by weight requirements (e.g., flatbed trucks), a decrease in vehicle weight would allow for an increase in payload weight. Therefore, large increases in material transport efficiencies, perhaps larger than can be made through improvements in engine performance, may be possible through decreases in aerodynamic drag, reductions

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Review of the U.S. Department of Energy's Heavy Vehicle Technologies Program in weight, and decreases in rolling resistance. However, new truck designs must also take into account the interaction of heavy trucks with roadways (e.g., the rate of damage from a fully loaded Class 8 truck is equivalent to that of 5,000 cars), as well as congestion and disruption to the transportation system from road repair. Several factors should be taken into account in a systems view of fuel economy. First, double trailers (sometimes even triple trailers, although not allowed in all states) have different aerodynamics than single-tractor trailers and also different cargo-carrying capacities. Because they are heavier than single trailers, they consume more gallons of fuel per mile; however, because they can carry more cargo weight, the appropriate measure for the fuel economy of trucks carrying cargo should be ton-miles/gallon (ton refers to the weight of the cargo being transported). Second, the driving duty cycle should be specified for all vehicles targeted for improvements in fuel economy. Without specified driving cycles, fuel economy goals are not very meaningful. OHVT has done this for Class 7 and 8 vehicles by specifying constant-speed driving at 65 mph, a very simple driving cycle. Third, the performance level of the vehicle must be indicated because fuel economy improvements can be made by sacrificing vehicle performance, and this trade-off should be included in an evaluation of the improvement. Finding 6. Engine efficiency is a significant, but not the only, factor in increasing the fuel economy of heavy vehicles. The overall Office of Heavy Vehicle Technologies (OHVT) program is focused too heavily on improving engine efficiency and not enough on other factors that affect fuel economy. The committee recognizes that some of these factors may be outside OHVT's mission and that addressing them will require interagency cooperation. Recommendation 6. The Office of Heavy Vehicle Technologies (OHVT) should focus more on factors other than engine efficiency that affect on-road fuel economy, especially improving aerodynamics, reducing the use of accessory power, decreasing rolling resistance, and decreasing unloaded vehicle weight by innovative design incorporating high-strength, weight-reduction materials (in keeping with safety considerations, as well as highway wear and tear). OHVT, in cooperation with other government agencies, should conduct an analysis to clarify the trade-offs and opportunities among engine efficiency and other factors affecting vehicle fuel economy and reorient its programs accordingly. To achieve a 10-mpg fuel economy in Class 7 and 8 trucks, OHVT should monitor trends in installed engine power and steps the commercial market is taking to achieve this. Trip time may be a more economically important parameter than fuel economy. OHVT's analysis should include vehicle systems models to identify opportunities for improving the vehicle system that could lead to improvements in fuel economy. For each truck classification, the driving duty cycle associated with each fuel economy goal should be specified. In addition, OHVT should evaluate which measure of fuel economy, miles/gallon or ton-miles/ gallon, is most appropriate for each class of vehicle. The expansion of OHVT's programs in this recommendation will require an increase in funding. The most promising alternative to diesel fuel is natural gas. OHVT 's program is now focused on urban trucks and buses with hybrid electric power trains, especially configurations that use natural gas. OHVT plans to work with competitively selected industry teams of hybrid-vehicle system developers and vehicle manufacturers. Because of the lack of an extensive infrastructure for natural-gas fueling stations, the focus will be on urban trucks and buses, which can more easily be fueled at central stations than privately owned vehicles. When comparing compressed and liquefied natural gas, vehicle energy consumption should be measured on a “well-to-wheels” basis. Finding 7. The goals of the Natural Gas Vehicle Program include demonstrations of two natural-gas vehicles by 2004 that are competitive in cost and performance with their diesel-fueled counterparts. One will be a Class 3 to 6 vehicle that operates on compressed natural gas (CNG); the other will be a Class 7 or 8 vehicle that operates on liquefied natural gas (LNG). Three types of natural-gas engines have been proposed: the SING (spark-ignited natural gas), the PING (pilot-injection natural gas), and the DING (direct-injection natural gas). The size, weight, and cost of onboard fuel storage systems, as well as the limited availability and high cost of natural-gas fueling stations, are also being addressed. Completion of the demonstration program will help to clarify the position of heavy-duty, natural-gas engines relative to diesel engines in terms of compliance with future emission standards and fuel economy. Recommendation 7. The Office of Heavy Vehicle Technologies should refocus its natural-gas research on meeting emission standards for 2007. Support for the PING (pilot-injection, natural gas) engine, DING (direct-injection, natural gas) engine, and the SING (spark-ignition, natural gas) engine should be continued until their performance and emissions characteristics are well understood. At that point, support for the SING engine should be discontinued unless it proves to have a substantial emissions advantage over the PING and DING engines. Research on onboard storage of natural gas should be focused on novel methods rather than on conventional compressed natural gas and liquefied natural gas storage technologies. A “well-to-wheels” analysis should be used to compare options for onboard storage. Research on refueling should be limited to the central refueling option.

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Review of the U.S. Department of Energy's Heavy Vehicle Technologies Program The R&D programs in materials appear to be well managed. However, projects are not prioritized based on their importance to the success of the OHVT program as a whole and their likelihood of success. Considering the myriad of problems and opportunities in materials R&D, OHVT must develop a process for identifying the most significant materials-related barriers to improved performance and prioritize them according to need. Then, relevant technologies should be evaluated in terms of their probability of success, and the most promising technologies should be selected. Finally, OHVT should establish long-range research programs to address needs that cannot be addressed by current technologies. Unless a disciplined, systematic approach is adopted, almost any materials-related R&D can be justified as being relevant to the OHVT program. OHVT must ensure that the projects it supports are not just relevant but also (1) address a priority need, (2) have a reasonable chance of success, or (3) are long-term research projects that may have high risks but also have potentially large payoffs. Finding 8. The Office of Heavy Vehicle Technologies has no systematic process for prioritizing high-strength, weight-reduction, materials-related research or for monitoring other relevant, federally funded materials R&D. Recommendation 8. A systematic process should be developed and put in place to monitor relevant, federally funded, materials research and development (R &D), to prioritize materials needs, and to identify high-priority opportunities for R&D. This process should use vehicle-systems modeling analyses to set specific goals for vehicle, power train, and chassis weight to meet overall fuel economy goals.