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LCF Annual Stakeholder Meeting

Join us for lunch and networking at the BRCC Automotive Technology Center for our Annual Stakeholder Meeting.
March 21, 2019 | 10:00 AM

Blog

5 Ways Alternative Fuels Aid Response to Hurricanes and Natural Disasters

Back-to-back hurricanes Harvey and Irma devastated parts of Houston and Florida and left millions of residents in the dark. The long lines and “out of fuel” gas station signs are reminders that most of the transportation sector still relies on gasoline and diesel. However, in a number of cities and states, alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs) are playing a big role in responding to natural disasters and improving emergency preparedness.

Take a look at these five examples:

1. Hurricane Harvey temporarily knocked out nearly 30% of the nation's refining capacity. While refineries worked to recover from the storm, compressed natural gas (CNG) stations in the area were able to remain up and running. Natural gas is supplied by underground pipelines so stations can operate without a hitch throughout an emergency. Many natural gas fueling stations also come equipped with emergency natural gas-fired generators that can keep the stations running during a blackout. 

An aerial view of a shuttle bus driving on the street.

2. Atlantic City, New Jersey relied on its fleet of 190 CNG buses to shuttle residents to safety when Hurricane Sandy struck in 2012. While other fleets struggled with fuel shortages these shuttles were able to stay moving during and after the storm thanks to uninterrupted CNG supply.

3. Flexibility is also important for vehicles servicing critical infrastructure needs. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has a fleet of bi-fuel (gasoline and natural gas) Ford F350 pickup trucks that operate at key airports, tunnels, and bridges. Being able to run on either fuel provides fueling flexibility, as well as extended range during normal operations.

4. AFVs can also help with recovery. New Richmond, Wisconsin sent a hybrid-electric utility bucket truck as part of a mutual aid mission to help with Hurricane Sandy cleanup. These vehicles operate on battery power when stationary and allow crews to fix power lines. The battery power eliminates engine idling and saves fuel at the same time. Some companies also use biodiesel and have reserve tanks in case of emergency—this helps stretch supplies of regular diesel even further.

5. Diverse fueling options also help reduce recovery time after a disaster. Following Hurricane Sandy, Eastern Propane was able to keep their fleet of propane-powered trucks running, delivering propane to the surrounding community and helping clear tree limbs and branches along the way. In Long Island, utility operators National Grid and Long Island Power Authority used their CNG cars and trucks for infrastructure repairs and cleanup.

Alternative Fuel and Advanced Technology Vehicles Aid in Emergency Recovery Efforts

Watch: See how alternative fuels and other advanced vehicle technologies can help emergency fleets react to and recover from natural disasters. 

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) supports a balanced portfolio of early-stage research and works directly with its nationwide network of Clean Cities Coalitions to enable widespread use of alternative fuels and energy efficient mobility technologies that enhance energy affordability, reliability, and resilience and strengthen U.S. energy security. Learn more about VTO’s Initiative for Resiliency in Energy through Vehicles project.

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How Does a Lithium-ion Battery Work?

Lithium-ion batteries power the lives of millions of people each day. From laptops and cell phones to hybrids and electric cars, this technology is growing in popularity due to its light weight, high energy density, and ability to recharge.

So how does it work?

This animation walks you through the process.

Animation created by Sarah Harman and Charles Joyner

The Basics

A battery is made up of an anode, cathode, separator, electrolyte, and two current collectors (positive and negative). The anode and cathode store the lithium. The electrolyte carries positively charged lithium ions from the anode to the cathode and vice versa through the separator. The movement of the lithium ions creates free electrons in the anode which creates a charge at the positive current collector.  The electrical current then flows from the current collector through a device being powered (cell phone, computer, etc.) to the negative current collector. The separator blocks the flow of electrons inside the battery.

Charge/Discharge

While the battery is discharging and providing an electric current, the anode releases lithium ions to the cathode, generating a flow of electrons from one side to the other. When plugging in the device, the opposite happens: Lithium ions are released by the cathode and received by the anode.

Energy Density vs. Power Density

The two most common concepts associated with batteries are energy density and power density. Energy density is measured in watt-hours per kilogram (Wh/kg) and is the amount of energy the battery can store with respect to its mass. Power density is measured in watts per kilogram (W/kg) and is the amount of power that can be generated by the battery with respect to its mass. To draw a clearer picture, think of draining a pool. Energy density is similar to the size of the pool, while power density is comparable to draining the pool as quickly as possible. 

The Vehicle Technologies Office works on increasing the energy density of batteries, while reducing the cost, and maintaining an acceptable power density. For more information on VTO’s battery-related projects, please visit www.vehicles.energy.gov

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TIGER 2017 Announced!

Funding for Local Transportation Priorities
DEADLINE: OCTOBER 16TH

Bike Lane StreetsThe U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has announced the 2017 TIGER grant applications. TIGER funding directly supports local infrastructure projects that promote safety, accessibility, mobility, and economic redevelopment. Multi-million dollar awards will be available for community-scale transportation initiatives that create jobs, enhance mobility, and improve quality of life. This is one of the best and most competitively sources of funding for transportation projects in local communities. In keeping with prior years, the minimum request for communities in an urbanized area is $5 million and a 20% match is officially required. Rural projects can request a minimum of $1 million.

On July 25, Sustainable Strategies DC organized a call between senior DOT leaders and a dozen mayors from across America to recommend improvements that will create new opportunities for small- and medium-size localities. The newly released solicitation reflects changes based upon numerous concerns that these mayors expressed, and it emphasizes projects in rural communities more than in previous years.

Sustainable Strategies DC is already working with communities nationwide to pursue these competitive funds. Based on our previous experience in winning TIGER grants and knowledge of how the program will likely change, we are helping localities develop strategies now to be most competitive for TIGER funds. Click here for more information on TIGER services that Sustainable Strategies DC provides and contact President Andrew Seth at (202) 261-9881to discuss how we can assist you with your application. The deadline to apply is October 16th, 2017

 
For information on additional opportunities, please contact Sustainable Strategies DC or click here for their website.  

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Technologies That Will Transform the Transportation System

The transportation system is in the midst of a dramatic worldwide transformation that has the potential to impact our daily lives. Many factors are contributing to this change: overall U.S. demographics are shifting, more people are moving to cities, and connected devices are empowering consumers with more choices and on-demand services. The arrival of new technologies, such as connected and automated vehicles, and the rise of the shared-economy, including car-sharing and ride-hailing, have the potential to provide new, low-cost, mobility options. 

Dramatic Energy Impacts

These new transportation technologies have the potential to provide improvements in safety, affordability, and accessibility to the American people. However, they also present challenges that must be understood. A recent study funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) indicates that the future impact of new mobility systems, including connected and automated vehicles, could range from a 60% decrease in overall transportation energy to a 200% increase.

Graphic that depicts the disruption of transportation energy in the future with cars driving toward a
Graphic | Sarah Harman

Energy Efficient Mobility Systems Research

To maximize the advantages of emerging disruptive technologies, such as connected and autonomous vehicles, VTO launched Energy Efficient Mobility Systems (EEMS). This comprehensive research program aims to identify and make full use of energy efficiency opportunities of advanced vehicle technologies and infrastructure, its interactions with existing infrastructure, and improved mobility of people and goods.

Current Mobility Projects

New recently announced “living lab” projects in Washington, Texas and New York are integrating smart mobility technologies in a holistic approach to the movement of people and/or goods that maximize energy efficiency. These projects will test new ideas, collect data, and inform research on energy efficient transportation technologies and systems, creating an essential feedback mechanism to the EEMS research program.

Connected Driving Software Prototype Demo
Watch and learn how connected technologies can improve the safety and fuel efficiency of your car.  

In addition, three EEMS projects will conduct research that evaluates energy savings benefits from connected and automated vehicles. These projects will lead to the creation of new software, controls, and technologies that use connectivity and automation to improve vehicle efficiency and analyze the system-wide energy opportunities available through connectivity and automation combined with shared mobility. 

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