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DOE Pumps $45 Million Into EV Batteries and Other Green Car Tech

The Department of Energy has just come out with a new round of $45 million in funding to improve the performance of EV batteries, along with other projects to reduce vehicle weight, improve efficiency and increase EV battery range. We’re not surprised to see sticky-tape expert 3M among the list of awardees, since the company has been up to its elbows in clean tech projects including solar energy and fuel cells.

3M’s slice of the funding pie is a big one, coming to just over $3 million, and with that in hand the company hopes to propel its long-running EV battery research into the big time.

New DOE Funding For Advanced EV Batteries

The new round of funding includes 38 EV battery and fuel efficiency projects (a complete pdf list is here), but for now let’s zero in on 3M. The company has received significant federal funding for EV battery research since at least 1993 and it looks like all that hard work is about to pay off.

3M gets $3 million for new EV battery research.

3M-sponsored Ford Fusion (cropped) by The Freewheeling Daredevil.

Here’s the Energy Department’s description of the 3M project:

…a new high energy electrochemical couple for automotive applications that exceeds energy requirements for PEV [plug-in electric vehicle] applications that couples a high capacity core shell cathode, advanced electrolyte, and advanced stable silicon alloy composite anode with a novel conductive polymer binder.

The anode is especially interesting because last year 3M announced a patent for its silicon anode compositions for lithium-ion batteries, which the company claims can increase capacity by more than 40 percent in combination with other advanced components developed by the company. 3M previously received a matching grant of $4.6 million from DOE for the research.

In addition to the 3M grant, the new round of DOE funding is going to a number of federal laboratories and academic institutions as well as to another familiar name in the green tech sector, GE, which will get $1.7 million to improve electric drive performance.

Overall, the new round of funding supports the Obama Administration’s EV Everywhere initiative, which aims to make EV ownership just as convenient and affordable as owning a conventional car (3M is also a charter member of the workplace EV charging component of EV Everywhere).

3M And Green Tech

As for 3M’s other sustainability-related projects, a couple of recent examples are a DOE grant of $3 million for advanced fuel cell R&D, and a $7.33 million partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to accelerate the development of low cost thin film solar and concentrated solar technologies.

It’s also worth noting that 3M is working on reducing the cost of compressed natural gas tanks for vehicles, though for obvious reasons (fracking comes to mind) natural gas is not one of our favorite alternative fuels, unless you’re talking about renewable biogas.

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Readers please note: An earlier version of this story had the total funding at $33 million. The actual figure is $45 million, sorry ’bout that.

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Written By

Tina specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.


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