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Maximum Phase I Award Amount: $200,000

Maximum Phase II Award Amount: $1,100,000

Accepting SBIR Phase I Applications: YES

Accepting STTR Phase I Applications: YES


EERE’s Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) provides low cost, secure, and clean energy technologies to move people and goods across America. VTO supports research, development (R&D), and deployment of efficient and sustainable transportation technologies that will improve energy efficiency, fuel economy, and enable America to use less petroleum. These technologies, which include advanced batteries and electric drive systems, lightweight materials, advanced combustion engines, alternative fuels, as well as energy efficient mobility systems, will increase America’s energy security, economic vitality, and quality of life.


All SBIR proposals submitted to VTO must:

·         Propose a tightly structured program which includes technical milestones that demonstrate clear progress, are aggressive but achievable, and are quantitative;

·         Include projections for price and/or performance improvements that are tied to a baseline (i.e. Multi-Year Program Plan (MYPP) or Roadmap targets and/or state of the art products or practices);

·         Explicitly and thoroughly differentiate the proposed innovation with respect to existing commercially available products or solutions;

·         Include a preliminary cost analysis;

·         Justify all performance claims with theoretical predictions and/or relevant experimental data;

·         Applications that duplicate research already in progress will not be funded; all submissions therefore should clearly explain how the proposed work differs from other work in the field Refer to the VTO website for currently funded projects (


Grant applications are sought only in the following subtopics:


a.      Electric Drive Vehicle Batteries

This subtopic seeks applications for research to develop electrochemical energy storage technologies that support commercialization of micro, mild, and full Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs), Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs), and Electric Vehicles (EVs).


Some specific improvements of interest to be considered in this subtopic include the following:

·         New low-cost materials for HEVs, PHEVs, and EVs.

·         Alternatives to or recycling technologies for critical materials [1] for energy storage.

·         High voltage and high temperature non-carbonate electrolytes.

·         Improvements in manufacturing processes, specifically the production of mixed metal oxide cathode materials through the elimination or optimization of the calcination step to reduce cost and improve throughput, speed, or yield.

·         Novel Solid Electrolyte Interphase stabilization techniques for silicon anodes.

·         Improved cell/pack design minimizing inactive material.

·         Significant improvement in specific energy (Wh/kg) or energy density (Wh/L); and improved safety.


Applications must clearly demonstrate how they advance the current state of the art in electric drive vehicle batteries and meet the relevant performance metrics listed at [2].


When appropriate, the technology should be evaluated in accordance with applicable test procedures or recommended practices as published by DOE and the U.S. Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC). These test procedures can be found at [3].

Phase I feasibility studies must be evaluated in full cells (not half-cells) greater than 200 milliamp-hours (mAh) in size while Phase II technologies should be demonstrated in full cells greater than 2 Ah.

Applications will be deemed non-responsive if the proposed technology is high cost; requires substantial infrastructure investments or industry standardization to be commercially viable; and/or cannot accept high power recharge pulses from regenerative breaking or has other characteristics that prohibit market penetration.

Research sought through this subtopic supports DOE’s Energy Storage Grand Challenge, a comprehensive program to accelerate the development, commercialization, and utilization of next-generation energy storage technologies and sustain American global leadership in energy storage. In addition, the subtopic supports for the objectives of the Critical Minerals Initiative to reduce both the costs of critical materials and the environmental impacts of production to create a sustainable critical-materials supply chain in the United States.


Questions – Contact: Simon Thompson,


b.      Motor Designs without Critical Materials for Electric Drive Vehicles

In support of DOE’s Critical Minerals Initiative, this subtopic seeks to address the challenges of lower cost motors with higher power density for vehicle traction while reducing critical materials[3] use.


Currently, critical materials [1] like neodymium and dysprosium are vital to manufacturing magnets used in most electric motors powering electric vehicles on the road today. Demand for these resources continues to grow, and in response to Executive Order 13817, A Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals[2], DOE is leading the way in developing alternative technologies that do not rely on these critical materials.

In addition, focused exploratory research for electric motors is needed to meet the cost and size targets described in the U.S. DRIVE partnership Electrical and Electronics Technical Team (EETT) Roadmap.[3]


To achieve these goals, VTO and its partners are already examining many research avenues, including: lower-cost permanent magnets and magnetic materials; reduced rare-earth magnet motors; non-permanent magnet motor designs; and improving electric motor thermal management, performance and reliability.


Applications to this subtopic should describe technical approaches for electric motor designs that aim to meet EETT targets while significantly reducing critical materials content. These motor designs should differ significantly from current or previous DOE research projects, and performance claims or benefits need to be supported by sufficient mathematical modeling and data analysis.


Applicants should show a relationship to, and demonstrate and understanding of, automotive application requirements and environments. Projects should aim to design and simulate a > 80 kW peak capable motor in Phase I, with plans to prototype at least one motor in Phase II.


Questions – Contact: Steven Boyd,


c.       Game Changing Technologies for Polymer Composites

In support of DOE’s Plastics Innovation Challenge, this subtopic encourages the submission of proposals for innovations in polymer composites such as carbon fiber reinforced polymer composites that have the potential to provide the most significant weight savings (up to 60-70%), while offering high specific strength, high specific stiffness, and excellent chemical/corrosion resistance which are important in a vehicle operational environment. Enabling the use of lightweight materials across the automotive industry through the development of novel materials, composite preforms and intermediates, manufacturing processes, and components for high-volume, high-performance, and affordable polymer composite vehicle applications is a key enabler for increasing fuel economy and reducing the environmental impact of vehicles.


Areas of interest within this subtopic are as follows:


1. Multiscale reinforced lightweight polymer composites: Polymer composites often rely on employing reinforcements such as micro- or nano-fillers in a relatively soft matrix. Simply using a single type of reinforcement (either micro- or nano-fillers) in polymer composites has almost achieved its reinforcing limit.  Multiscale micro/nano hybrid reinforcements are anticipated to achieve exceptional reinforcing effects, which are beyond the reach of a single type of reinforcement. Such hierarchical hybrid fillers are expected to enhance the filler/matrix interfacial load transfer.  However, simultaneously adding both micro- and nano-reinforcements in a polymer matrix material remains challenging since nano-fillers tend to loosely adhere (agglomerate) onto micro-fillers, decreasing their reinforcing effects [1]. 


Areas of interest:

·         Technologies to achieve multiscale (both micro- and nanoscale) reinforcing effects simultaneously in the polymer matrix.

·         Development of new kinds of fillers with both micro- and nano-characteristics enabling multiscale reinforcing mechanisms in polymer composites.


2. Nano-additive enabled upcycling of polymer composites: Polymer composite vehicle structures/parts are required to be recycled for reuse.  Converting polymer composites into a value-added product will significantly reduce the amount of plastic that becomes landfill or environmental pollution. The recycled composites often exhibit degradation in both properties and functionalities. Upcycling is needed to restore the recycled composites to achieve the same or even superior properties and functionalities over the pristine polymer composite counterparts [2]. Nano-additives are anticipated to offer an intriguing upcycling opportunity through reinforcing matrix and/or tailoring filler/matrix interface to achieve a higher load-transfer efficiency.


Areas of interest:

·         Technologies to upcycle polymer composites by adding low-cost nano-fillers in recycled composites. 

·         Development of low-cost nano-additives capable of restoring recycled composites to achieve the same or even superior properties and functionalities over the pristine polymer composite counterparts.


Proposals must tie in with structural polymer composites that have advantages of low cost, lightweight, and high performance for vehicle applications. Any proposals using above technologies to develop or improve battery materials performance will not be considered.


Questions – Contact: Felix Wu,


d.      Reliable, Durable, Low-Cost Sensors for Advanced Combustion and Emission Control Strategies

This subtopic solicits proposals to develop sensors for engine combustion and after treatment systems that offer a significant decrease in cost while demonstrating durability, as well as improved speed and accuracy that enable new combustion strategies.


Advanced combustion engines that increase fuel economy while meeting increasingly stringent emission regulations will require innovative control strategies. Such control strategies need a variety of accurate and timely inputs. Sensors which measure important inputs like temperature, pressure, fuel-air ratio, fuel quality, and piston and valve position, as well as reliably detect pollutants at all operating conditions would be installed on future engines and used for combustion control and active feedback. While various sensor options are currently available, significant reductions in cost and increased durability are needed to be widely implemented. In some cases, improvements in speed and accuracy of sensor measurements are desired to enable real-time adjustments of engine operation that would facilitate further efficiency improvements.


Combustion strategies that operate fuel-lean offer superior fuel efficiency, but require complex exhaust gas after treatment systems, including particulate filters and selective catalytic reduction (SCR) catalysts using injected urea solution, to comply with emission regulations. Currently, back pressure sensors are employed in conjunction with control maps to identify when regeneration (soot oxidation) of particulate filters is needed, but more advanced sensors may enable reducing the regeneration frequency and/or shortening the length of the process (reducing fuel penalty). Real-time sensors for direct measurement of exhaust oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) and for ammonia (NH3), are lacking. Adoption of low NOx and PM regulation will further challenge measurement of these ultra-low pollutants.


Applications must demonstrate:

·         An understanding of the current state-of-the-art (SOA) in automotive sensors.

·         Why the proposed technology represents significant improvement in the SOA with respect to cost, accuracy, durability, or other important parameters.

·         Evidence, or a plan to demonstrate, that the sensor will work reliably for the typical lifetime of the vehicle.

·         Evidence that the proposed sensor technology once installed in engines and after treatment systems will facilitate fuel efficiency improvements.

·         Evidence that the sensor is likely to be successfully installed on a modern, production automotive engine in Phase II.


Questions – Contact: Michael Weismiller,


References: Subtopic a:

1.      “Energy Storage System Goals.” United States Council for Automotive Research, LLC., 2020,


2.      “USABC Manuals.” United States Council for Automotive Research, LLC.


References: Subtopic b:

1.      Department of the Interior. “Final List of Critical Minerals 2018,” 83 Fed. Reg. 23295; 2018


2.      Executive Office of the President. “A Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals.” Federal Register, White House, December 2017,


3.      USCAR. “Electrical and Electronics Technical Team Roadmap.” USDrive, October 2017,


References: Subtopic c:

1.      Song, N., Zhang, Y., Gao, Z., Li, X. “Bioinspired, Multiscale Reinforced Composites with Exceptionally High Strength and Toughness.” Nano Letters, Vol. 18, 5812-5820, 2018,


2.      Rorrer, N. A., Nicholson S., Carpenter A., Biddy, M. J., Grundl, N. J., Beckham, G. T. “Combining Reclaimed PET with Bio-based Monomers Enables Plastics Upcycling.” Joule, Vol. 3, 1006-1027, 2019,


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