Scientists are making great strides in vehicle technologies that drivers have dreamed about since Henry Ford rolled out the first Model T. Automated cars that drive you. Leftovers from last night’s dinner or grease from your bacon breakfast that become today’s fuel. Fuel-efficient, electric plug-in vehicles—batteries that power a car from town to town without requiring so much as a glance in the direction of a fuel gauge. Exhaust that can be even cleaner than the incoming air. Vehicles that are, remarkably, both lighter and safer.
Our researchers are partnering with industry to bring more efficiency and less expense to our driving experience. Our teams are converting biomass and waste to biofuels that are infrastructure ready—developing technologies that convert stranded carbon assets into the next generation of hydrocarbon fuels. PNNL’s Institute for Integrated Catalysis supports research to make better catalysts that clean exhausts as well as create biofuels. Our expertise in Solid Phase Processing is allowing novel lightweight materials and manufacturing processes for cars, trucks, and military vehicles—processes that join lightweight metals with heavier metals of various thicknesses. Our partnerships in the electric vehicle realm are leading to smaller, lighter, and less expensive electric vehicle batteries. And highly efficient water electrolysis that uses renewable energy to make hydrogen and new ways to convert natural gas to hydrogen and solid carbon are leading to fuel cell technologies that reduce or even eliminate greenhouse gas emissions.
Lightweight. Fuel efficient. Electric. These are common words among researchers, thanks to improved batteries and fuel cells, sustainable low-cost hydrogen production, advanced biofuel technology, new catalysts for decreased emissions, and manufacturing processes to reduce the weight of vehicles.