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Energy Department Awards $8.4 Million To Improve Engine, Powertrain Efficiency

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Steven Chu at his 2009 confirmation hearings. CBS News photo

Steven Chu at his 2009 confirmation hearings. CBS News photo

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Federal energy secretary Steven Secretary Chu Tuesday announced $8.4 million over three to four years for suppliers and vehicle manufacturers to develop and demonstrate technologies that increase the efficiency of engines and powertrain systems for future highway transportation vehicles.

Two of the projects are based in Michigan.

Chu said the projects will focus on new innovations that achieve breakthrough thermal efficiencies while meeting federal emission standards for passenger vehicles — cars and light trucks — as well as commercial vehicles, including long-haul tractor trailers.  These technologies for engines and powertrains will help automakers and truck engine manufacturers achieve higher efficiencies than ever before, while meeting or exceeding the recently announced vehicle fuel economy standards intended to help reduce U.S. demand for oil imports and save consumers money at the pump.

“The Department of Energy is investing in new technologies that will significantly improve vehicle fuel economy, save consumers money, and create skilled jobs for Americans,” Chu said. “By encouraging innovations to help make America’s vehicle fleet more fuel-efficient, the Obama Administration is working to improve the nation’s energy security and reduce our reliance on imported oil.”

The projects will focus on developing and testing new technologies for engines and powertrains that could reduce cost and address technical barriers currently inhibiting the wider use of advanced engine technologies in the mass market.  Projects will also validate technologies developed at the engine or system level to help ensure that these innovations can advance into broad commercial use at a scale needed to reduce vehicle fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions nationally.

The two Michigan projects selected are:

* General Motors LLC, Pontiac, $1.4 million: GM will develop and demonstrate a novel technology that enables the use of high dilution in the combustion chamber significantly improving the fuel economy of vehicles compared to conventional engines.

* Mahle Powertrain LLC, Novi, $2.5 million: Mahle will develop a next-generation combined ignition/turbo-charging concept that will enable the implementation of ultra lean-burn technology to engines, improving efficiency and significantly reducing the formation of pollutants such as oxides of nitrogen (NOx).

The other projects were Filter Sensing Technologies Inc, Cambridge, Mass., $2 million, for low-cost, robust sensors and controls that can reduce the overall cost and complexity of engine and emission control systems, while delivering tangible performance benefits, and Eaton Corp., Milwaukee, Wis., $2.5 million, for advanced component technology for heavy-duty diesel engine waste heat recovery systems that are capable of improving the fuel economy of heavy-duty vehicles.

DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy invests in clean energy technologies that strengthen the economy, protect the environment, and reduce dependence on foreign oil.

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