US DOE's Co-OPtima Program On Track To Cut Engine Emissions And Reduce Fuel Consumption

Nov 30, 2016 04:27 AM EST | Rowland Eturma

The US Department of Energy's (DOE) effort to co-optimize the development of efficient engines and low greenhouse gas emissions was launched in October of 2015. How has it been going so far? In information released by the DOE, the department just announced that up to $7B in project funding is available for schools and nonprofit research institutions.

The Co-Optima project was launched to reduce petroleum consumption of on-road vehicles by 30 percent by 2030 and beyond. The application is intended for light, medium and heavy duty markets including hybrid architectures. The project team which is headed by Robert Wagner, Research Head Director at Oak ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), reported in a lab briefing this month that the team has grown to more than 130 researchers, according to Green Car Congress.

Co-Optima's proposition is that current fuels constrain engine design and efficiency. Its researchers believe that there are engine designs that can provide better thermodynamic efficiencies than the current internal combustion engines. However, new kinds of fuels are needed to maximize efficiency and operability across a wide speed and range load.

Co-Optima's researchers are finding ways such as what fuel properties maximize engine performance, how engine parameters affect efficiency and what fuel and engine combinations are sustainable and affordable. To accelerate such program, the DOE will offer the $7 billion funding to U.S. institutions of higher education and nonprofit research institutions that are operating under its stead, according to a report by BioMass Magazine.

The DOE is actively seeking proposals that would help it fulfill its Co-Optima program particularly on emissions and environmental impact analysis. For more than a hundred years, the internal combustion engine has been in use in motor vehicles and it's about time to find its alternative not just for fuel efficiency, but because burning fossil fuels excessively should hopefully be a thing of the past by then.

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