In its third review of the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership (FC&FP) research initiative, the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academies (Washington, D.C.) commends the Partnership’s pursuit of sustainable automotive transportation solutions and urges that R&D continue to address pressing transportation needs in the U.S.
NRC’s Review of the Research Program of the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership, Third Report is considered significant because the NRC provides policy advice to the U.S. government. According to the report, the Partnership structure is “an effective means of identifying high-priority, long-term precompetitive research needs while also addressing societal needs, such as reducing petroleum dependence and greenhouse gas production.” Although some research areas still face “very substantial barriers,” NRC concludes that the Partnership “is effective in progressing toward its goals” and has provided “evidence of solid progress in essentially all areas.”
Since its formation in 2002, FC&FP has devoted considerable research to hydrogen fuel technologies as well as improvements in internal combustion engine efficiencies, vehicle lightweighting, and advances in hybrid-electric, plug-in hybrid-electric and battery-electric vehicle technologies.
Noting that budgetary support for hydrogen and automotive fuel cell R&D has at times wavered amid other near-term objectives, the NRC committee reinforced the importance of hydrogen vehicle research, calling it “an appropriate strategy,” and recommended that hydrogen and automotive fuel cell programs “remain in a balanced R&D portfolio of different options” that include internal combustion engine (ICE) technologies.
NRC also commends the Partnership’s Advanced Combustion and Emissions Control (ACEC) Technical Team and calls for intensified efforts in the following Partnership programs:
- Energy storage (advanced batteries) and power electronics R&D for vehicle electrification.
- Development of system-analysis methodology to accelerate
cost-effective vehicle lightweighting (which includes composites).
- Enhanced recycling R&D for batteries and carbon-reinforced composites.
NRC also advocates a broader scope for the Fuel Pathways Integration Technical Team, in three main focus areas:
- Improving ICE vehicles, coupled with greater use of bio-fuels.
- Shifting significant portions of transportation energy from
petroleum to the grid through expanded use of PHEVs and BEVs.
- Transitioning to hydrogen as a major transportation fuel, in fuel cell vehicles.
“We appreciate the NRC’s positive evaluation of the Partnership and its recognition of government/industry collaboration as a key enabler to helping our nation achieve energy security,” said newly appointed USCAR executive director Steve Zimmer.