OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Sept. 17, 2010 -- As a member of the recently announced clean vehicles consortium, part of the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers are focusing on a suite of technologies to put more electric and hybrid vehicles on the road.

Working with the University of Michigan, which leads the consortium announced by the Department of Energy, ORNL will contribute in the areas of advanced systems integration, vehicle electrification, batteries and energy storage, characterization, optimization and combustion of biofuels and lightweighting structures, said Robert Wagner of ORNL's Energy and Transportation Science Division.

Government funding for the Clean Energy Research Center totals $25 million, with the clean vehicles and clean coal consortia, announced the same day, each to receive $12.5 million over the next five years. The funding is to be matched by the grantees.

In announcing the consortia, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said, "The U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center will help accelerate the development and deployment of clean vehicle and clean coal technologies here at home. This new partnership will also create new export opportunities for American companies, ensure the United States remains at the forefront of technology innovation and help to reduce global carbon pollution."

While levels of funding are to be determined, Wagner envisions the collaboration strengthening partnerships and speeding the effort. Core partners include Ohio State University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sandia National Laboratories and the Joint BioEnergy Institute, which will partner with several Chinese entities.

"Numerous other industrial partners have committed to contributing to the Clean Energy Research Center with funding or in-kind and many additional companies have expressed interest," Wagner said.

In the clean vehicle proposal to DOE, the team wrote that the center aims to have an impact on three of society's grand challenges: climate change, energy security and environmental sustainability.

"The strategic intent of the Clean Energy Research Center clean vehicles consortium is to forge a strong partnership between the U.S. and China, the largest greenhouse gas emitters and the largest existing and emerging vehicle markets, for breakthrough research and development," the proposal stated.

The hope is that this effort will facilitate joint research and development of clean energy technologies by the U.S. and China.