The U.S. Department of Energy announced $50 million for new and innovative research of technologies for trucks, off-road vehicles, and the fuels that power them. Funded through the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), these selections highlight the DOE’s priorities in gaseous fuels research, including natural gas, biopower, and hydrogen; heavy-duty freight electrification; hydrogen infrastructure and fuel cell technologies for heavy-duty applications; and energy efficient off-road vehicles.
"As the fastest growing fuel users in the United States, it is important our trucking industry has access to advanced technologies, such as electrification and fuel cells, as a way to move goods efficiently and economically," says Under Secretary of Energy Mark W. Menezes. "EERE has a strong track record of successful investment in the research and development of a broad portfolio of technologies, including electrification, advanced combustion engines, and fuels such as natural gas, hydrogen, and biofuels, that can significantly improve the efficiency and reduce the cost of transportation energy. These selections reinforce DOE’s commitment to sustainable transportation options."
Economic growth requires the movement of goods. Trucks carry more than 70% of the nation’s freight on both a tonnage and value basis—at some point on their way from manufacturer to consumer, virtually all goods travel by truck. The movement of goods requires energy, and medium- and heavy-duty trucks (Class 3-8) consume 25% of annual vehicle fuel use, despite comprising only 4% of the total number of U.S. on-road vehicles. Off-road vehicles account for 8% of the total energy consumed in the U.S. transportation sector and are used in key domestic industries, including construction, agriculture, and mining. Energy use by trucks is also growing. U.S. Energy Information Administration projections indicate that the freight truck sector’s annual vehicle miles traveled will increase by 54% by 2050.