UTD Benefits > Clean Transportation End Users

Why We Do It Addressing Recognized Needs of Clean Transportation End Users

Transportation fuels used by medium and heavy-duty trucks, buses, and similar end users have traditionally been heavily dominated by petroleum-based fuels, with attendant emissions of particular matter, NOx, SOx and other criteria air pollutants. These end users often have limited choices of economical, low-emission technologies. UTD is helping to address these recognized needs.

Expand Affordable Clean Transportation Options

“[Medium and Heavy Duty (MHD)] trucks account for a significant portion (20-25%) of the energy consumption and air emissions of the U.S. transportation sector. [Medium and Heavy Duty Vehicles (MHDVs)], around 11 million trucks and fewer than 1 million buses, represent only 4.5% of the 260 million vehicles on the road nationally (Argonne 2016). Although they comprise only a small share of the national vehicle population, MHDVs are the second-largest energy consumers and greenhouse gas (GHG) emitters, behind only light duty vehicles that include passenger cars, sports-utility vehicles, and pickup trucks (DOT 2017, Davis and Boundy 2016, EPA 2016a). …Diesel-powered MHD trucks have a tremendous impact on national and local air pollution. Nationally, MHD diesel trucks account for approximately 30% of total nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10) emissions from mobile sources (EPA 2016b)”

Assessment of Potential Future Demands for Hydrogen in the United States, Elgowainy, A. etal, Argonne National Laboratory, ANL-20/35, October 2020, p. 52

“Improvements in vehicle efficiency through R&D can lead to petroleum use reduction (3.06 Quads in 2050) and GHG reduction (47.2 MMT in 2050), which would be enhanced with expanded use of RNG. In addition, medium- and heavy-duty NGVs currently have significantly lower NOx emissions than diesel vehicles, and their expanded use could reduce transportation NOx by a large amount (350,000 metric tons in 2050). Finally, one of the key benefits of NGVs is their ability to significantly reduce fuel costs. NG freight trucks could potentially experience a reduction in the [Levelized Cost of Driving] by up to 60% by 2050, which would be a significant benefit to the trucking industry and the U.S. economy.”

Assessment of Expanding Natural Gas Use in Transportation, Burnham, A. etal, Argonne National Laboratory, ANL/ESD-18/11, May 2018, p. 31

“Emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) from heavy-duty diesel engines are a significant contributor to ambient air quality issues and ozone pollution in many areas of the United States. Although the EPA’s 2010 emissions standard for heavy-duty engines went a long way toward reducing NOx emissions, there is still a significant gap between real-world and certified NOx emissions from these engines. The two main regulatory agencies in the United States responsible for addressing NOx from heavy-duty engines, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), are developing new regulations to address weaknesses in the current standard. An important element in this process is to have a good understanding of the current real-world baseline emissions from existing diesel vehicles.”

Current State of NOx Emissions from In-Use Heavy-Duty Diesel Vehicles in the United States, Badshah, H., etal, International Council on Clean Transportation, November 2019, p. i.

“RNG’s growing reputation as an ultra-low emission, carbon-negative, drop-in replacement for fossil CNG is gaining momentum with fleets across the country. Nearly 90% of surveyed fleets who have CNG vehicles intend to use RNG in the next year, the highest rate of any renewable fuel or energy source across all drivetrains, and an indicator that fuelers are expanding supplies outside of California. RNG currently provides the greatest GHG emission-reduction benefits compared to other renewable technologies and continues to displace the adoption of fossil CNG by fleets.”

State of Sustainable Fleets 2021 Market and Trends Brief, Gladstein, Neandross & Associates, May 2021, p. 19.

Overcome Hurdles to New Product/Technology Options through Collaboration

“While regulatory policies are most critical, innovation alliances also serve an important, mutually beneficial purpose. Innovation alliances can be public, private or involve combinations of types of stakeholders.  …

Much more private investment and public-private collaboration in RD&D is required, particularly around TRL 6–8. Collaborative measures can increase success as well as cost efficiency through resource and risk sharing, as well as tapping in to complementary expertise.”

Accelerating Sustainable Energy Innovation, World Economic Forum, May 2018, p. 20

“The other major challenge entrepreneurs identify is the need to perform pilot tests in the field. This is a critical step in moving bench-scale prototypes to a reliable, commercial technology. In field tests, the entrepreneur sees how the technology is handled by field personnel, how it integrates into the existing system, and how it performs under real-world situations. The specific testing needs of clean energy technologies vary widely. … These variations in testing needs create a challenge to find the right testing facility or partner for field trials.”

Advancing the Landscape of Clean Energy Innovation, Breakthrough Energy, Feb. 2019, p. 55

“Successfully shepherding new technologies from concept to commercialization requires support at all stages, but the demonstration stage is particularly underfunded (C2ES, 2019; Nemet et al., 2018; Hart, 2018). The IEA defines technology demonstration as the “operation of a prototype … at or near commercial scale with the purpose of providing technical, economic and environmental information” (IEA 2011). The fundamental role of demonstration is to instill confidence in technology developers, users, investors, and the public that a technology will perform as intended. However, the first several large demonstrations of an emerging technology generally entail a level of technical and financial risk beyond what private industry can support, leading to a “commercialization valley of death” (Nemet et al.,2018).”

Accelerating Decarbonization of the U.S. Energy System, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, The National Academies Press, 2021, p. 169

“Climate-tech start-ups usually face a deeper valley of death than IT start-ups.  To demonstrate technological and commercial viability and successfully cross the valley, climate-tech start-ups may need to simultaneously scale up research to a working technology prototype, ensure the supply chains needed for product development are in place, and establish a pathway to profit generation, including a clear demand for the product from consumers or utilities for both hardware and software. …

Collaboration with external partners provides climate-tech start-ups with resources and intangible assets that help them navigate through the valley of death and get the investment they need. Collaborations can reduce some of the perceived risks inherent to clean energy innovation, improve the prospects of climate-tech start-up survival, and facilitate clean energy technology commercialization.”

Collaboration Between Start-Ups and Federal Agencies: A Surprising Solution for Energy Innovation, Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, Aug. 2020, p. 3

“The energy sector faces a series of unique challenges compared with other industries that make it especially difficult for even the most promising projects to attract private-sector investment that could help them surpass these critical stages:

  1. Capital-Intensive…
  2. Long Payback Periods…
  3. Valued as a Commodity…
  4. Regulatory Uncertainty and Fragmentation…

For the reasons listed above, the private sector generally underinvests in energy R&D. The risks associated with energy R&D are frequently too high for the private sector to make the investments needed on its own to match the scale of the opportunity of developing transformational energy technologies.”

Energy Innovation: Fueling America’s Economic Engine, American Energy Innovation Council, Nov. 2018, p. 10

UTD Shaping the Energy Future