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REVIEW OF THE RESEARCH PROGRAM OF THE PARTNERSHIP FOR A NEW GENERATION OF VEHICLES: SECOND REPORT Highlights This is the second report of the National Research Council's Standing Committee to Review the Research Program of the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV). The PNGV program is a cooperative research and development (R&D) program between the federal government and the United States Council for Automotive Research (USCAR). One of the aims of the program, referred to as the PNGV Goal 3 objective, is to develop technologies for a new generation of vehicles that could achieve fuel economies up to three times those of comparable 1994 family sedans. At the same time, these vehicles should maintain performance, size, utility, and cost of ownership and operation and should meet or exceed federal safety and emissions requirements. The intent of the program is to develop production prototype vehicles by 2004. The next major PNGV milestone, scheduled for 1997, is selection of the most promising technologies. The committee's major tasks were to examine ongoing research activities in the PNGV and to assess the relevance of that research and its management to the PNGV's goals and schedule. Most of the PNGV research to date has focused on improving drivetrain efficiency, developing improved energy storage systems, and reducing vehicle mass through the use of lightweight structural materials. In the committee's view, the technologies being pursued are relevant and appropriate to the PNGV objectives, and significant achievements have been made. Nonetheless, formidable technical barriers remain to meeting the program goals within the PNGV schedule. Some of these barriers can be overcome with sufficient resources; others will require a new invention or a major technical breakthrough. Three primary energy converters or power sources are being actively considered for PNGV Goal 3 vehicles; namely, direct-injection compression-ignition (DICI) internal-combustion engines, fuel cells, and gas turbine engines. The DICI engine shows promise of being highly efficient, although the development of appropriate catalysts to reduce NOx exhaust emissions remains a significant barrier. The committee recommends that the PNGV
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REVIEW OF THE RESEARCH PROGRAM OF THE PARTNERSHIP FOR A NEW GENERATION OF VEHICLES: SECOND REPORT devote substantial additional resources to the DICI hybrid powertrain in view of its relatively high potential to meet PNGV Goal 3 objectives. From the standpoint of automotive applications, fuel cells offer the potential for high efficiency and low emissions. However, fuel cells are the least developed option under consideration for a power source, and they present the most barriers to a commercially viable system. Despite a number of significant PNGV achievements in fuel-cell technology, fuel-related barriers remain. Several major inventions are needed for the successful development of hydrogen storage systems or efficient, compact fuel processors for hydrocarbon fuels. Although fuel cells have outstanding long-term potential, the PNGV may find it necessary to restructure the fuel-cell program, extending the schedule and revising funding priorities, depending on progress over the next two years. Gas turbine engines have many potential advantages for hybrid vehicles, including very high specific power, but the main barriers continue to be the difficulty of increasing thermal efficiency and finding satisfactory materials and manufacturing techniques to achieve the necessary performance at acceptable cost. The research challenges for gas turbine engines are very demanding, but the PNGV has made some progress. In the committee's view, the pace of progress over the next two years will be a critical determinant of whether the gas turbine engine remains a viable PNGV option. Energy storage systems recapture otherwise wasted vehicle kinetic energy and reduce peak load requirements for the main propulsion system, thereby increasing operating efficiency. Current PNGV support is concentrated on three candidates—batteries, flywheels, and ultracapacitors. Although substantial progress has been made in virtually all areas of battery technology critical to battery hybrid vehicles, present high-power batteries cannot simultaneously satisfy the power density, energy density, and cycle-life requirements for the PNGV energy-storage subsystem. Therefore, a combined battery/ultracapacitor subsystem is under consideration. The performance of ultracapacitors has shown significant improvement in laboratory demonstrations, with increased energy and power densities, but major barriers remain with respect to total energy storage and cost. The cost of power electronics is a barrier to the integration of all power components, including batteries, ultracapacitors, and flywheels. R&D on flywheels has resulted in significant performance improvements; but cost remains a barrier, and safety concerns need to be addressed. Goal 3 vehicles will make significant use of lightweight structural materials. Notable PNGV achievements in this area include the demonstration of high-volume fabrication processes for steel and aluminum. The committee recommends that USCAR continue to pursue these very promising developments in steel and aluminum materials made by materials suppliers and
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REVIEW OF THE RESEARCH PROGRAM OF THE PARTNERSHIP FOR A NEW GENERATION OF VEHICLES: SECOND REPORT trade associations. Despite some progress, the composites program is lagging with no clearly scheduled activities that would enable this class of materials to be viable alternatives to steel and aluminum by 1997. An approximate assessment of the broad potential for major PNGV candidate subsystems is presented in table H-1. The committee made a distinction between systems for which technical breakthroughs are needed to meet PNGV targets and those for which incremental development with adequate resources (funding and staff) is likely to lead to the necessary progress. The committee has identified the most critical barriers to meeting PNGV performance requirements, as well as the approximate cost and the likelihood of meeting PNGV schedules. These three factors have been used to derive a first approximation of the overall potential regardless of the PNGV schedule and to further highlight program priorities. The committee recommends that the PNGV perform appropriate evaluations to ensure that its program resources and focus are, in general, consistent with the “basic needs” column of table H-1. If necessary, program funding should be reallocated to encourage developments. In addition to the Goal 3 objective, the PNGV program also aims to significantly improve national competitiveness in manufacturing (Goal 1) and implement commercially viable innovation from ongoing research on conventional vehicles (Goal 2). The committee observed that progress has been made towards Goals 1 and 2 since the first NRC review in August 1994. Despite significant improvements in program organization in the past year and the resulting technical achievements, the committee concluded that the USCAR members are not using the leverage of an integrated industry organization in pursuit of PNGV goals. The committee continues to believe strongly that the industry partners would be well served by having a single technical program director in USCAR to drive and coordinate the program. The committee also noted that the government lacks an effective program management organization, with little or no ability to redeploy funds from less significant to more important technology developments in response to budget reductions or following technology selection. The committee considers strong program management on the government side to be essential to the success of the program, given the large number of government participants. Systems analysis in the PNGV program is critical to the successful development of components, systems, and overall vehicle design. However, very little has been accomplished in this area because of a lack of funding and a resulting 12- to 18-month delay in initiating the systems analysis activity. The committee concluded that the PNGV does not currently have the necessary systems analysis tools to adequately support the technology selection scheduled for 1997. This deficiency constitutes a barrier to meeting the PNGV program goals in a timely manner. A further concern is that contributions from the
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REVIEW OF THE RESEARCH PROGRAM OF THE PARTNERSHIP FOR A NEW GENERATION OF VEHICLES: SECOND REPORT TABLE H-1 Potential of PNGV Candidate Technologies Major Subsystems Critical Technical Barriers Costa Likelihood of Meeting Schedule a Overall Potential Regardless of Schedule b Basic Needs Hybrid Drivetrain Power Sources DICI NOx catalyst Low High High Resources Fuel cell Fuel processor/reformer Fuel storage High Low Medium Breakthroughs Turbine Structural ceramics Exhaust heat recovery High Low Medium Breakthroughs Energy Storage Battery High cycle life Medium Medium Medium Resources, focused R&D Ultracapacitor Efficiency Self-discharge Safety Medium Medium Medium Breakthroughs, resources Battery/ultracapacitor Integration Safety Medium Medium High Breakthroughs, resources Flywheel Safety High Medium Medium Resources, focused R&D Power electronics Efficiency High High High Resources Lightweight Structural Materials Composite High volume manufacture Crashworthiness High Low Medium Resources, focused R&D Aluminum High volume manufacture Joining Medium High High Focused R&D Steel Weight Low Medium Medium Focused R&D a High cost is a barrier, as is low likelihood of meeting the PNGV schedule. b Long-term potential beyond 2004.
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REVIEW OF THE RESEARCH PROGRAM OF THE PARTNERSHIP FOR A NEW GENERATION OF VEHICLES: SECOND REPORT National Aeronautics and Space Administration for the systems analysis work are uncertain beyond fiscal year 1996. The committee was also concerned that the U.S. Department of Transportation is not playing an active role in addressing and resolving PNGV transportation policy and safety issues and that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency does not appear to be addressing the question of emissions standards for new PNGV technologies. The U.S. Department of Defense also needs to be more supportive and involved in the PNGV research program. To be successful, a complex development program such as the PNGV must have well-defined plans and objectives, adequate resources, and sufficient funding support. Although significant progress has been made, in the committee's view, it is incumbent upon both USCAR and the government to ensure that adequate resources for the PNGV program are provided in a timely manner and used efficiently in overcoming the critical barriers to achieving PNGV goals.
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