DOE funding eight transportation fuels research projects

The US Department of Energy has named eight teams of companies to participate in its Ultra-Clean Transportation Fuels Initiative. The program calls for the creation of a new generation of ultra-clean transportation fuels and tailpipe emission controls to meet the anticipated tightening of federal emission standards.


The US Department of Energy has named eight teams of companies to participate in its Ultra-Clean Transportation Fuels Initiative.

The program calls for the creation of a new generation of ultra-clean transportation fuels and tailpipe emission controls to meet the tougher federal standards for tailpipe emissions expected to come in the next decade.

The teams will each test one of eight ultra-clean fuel projects that are part of the US administration's effort to cut air pollution from cars, trucks and buses by more than 90%.

The eight teams are the first of two groups of projects DOE plans to select in the next several months. Additional industry proposals are to be received by Jan. 4, 2001, and the department will announce a second round of selections next spring.

DOE Office of Fossil Energy will head the fuels development research while the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy will be responsible for the vehicle system emission control projects. Completion of final negotiations for the projects is expected in March or April, a DOE spokeswoman said.

The individual projects, with a combined value of more than $176 million, will last from 18 months to 5 years.

DOE, the participating companies and the US Army will jointly fund the project. The Army agreed to provide a portion of funding for the projects in return for project data it can use for fueling future military vehicles. The federal government will pay just over $74 million of the total project costs. Actual funding will be decided during upcoming contract negotiations.

Integrated Concepts & Research Corp. (ICRC) of Alexandria, Va., will research natural gas-to-liquids technology. Other members of the team include Syntroleum Corp. DaimlerChrysler, Arthur D. Little Inc., the National Park Service, Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Alaska, and West Virginia University.

The $36 million project, to be equally funded by the DOE and the team participants, will test the production and use of ultra-clean synthetic fuels that can be delivered by existing fuel infrastructures.

Syntroleum said fuels from the project would be tested on bus fleets belonging to the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority and other large urban communities that fail to meet all of the federal emission level standards.

Besides ICRC, Praxair Inc. of Tonawanda, NY, and Houston-based Conoco Inc. will each head teams of companies working with GTL technology to make low-polluting fuels.

Praxair will head a $37 million project which includes BP, the South African company Sasol, and Statoil. Rather than compressing gas, it would chemically transform the GTL fuels that could substitute for conventional diesel fuel or be used as a clean-burning fuel additive.

"Converting natural gas to liquid form allows it to be delivered and used without major changes in today's existing fuel systems," DOE said. Conoco will head up a second team for a proposed $26 million research effort.

Three other teams headed by Phillips Petroleum Co., Bartlesville, Okla., Petro Star Inc., Anchorage, Alas., and Research Triangle Institute, Research Triangle Park, NC, will focus on developing refining processes that remove sulfur from crude. The three projects will total $60.2 million.

A seventh team, headed by EnviRes LLC, Somerville, NJ, will study a concept that converts coal and petroleum coke into clean fuels in a $3.9 million project.

Ford Motor Co., Dearborn, Mich., will lead the eighth project, valued at $13.5 million, which will develop an emission-control system for future automobiles and trucks. Ford and its team members, which include ExxonMobil Corp., will test a system that will employ a chemical process that captures smog-forming nitrogen oxides from the exhausts of internal combustion engines. Ford also is a participant in the Phillips team.

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