Government green transportation research agencies

Governments around the world are supporting research into transportation systems. Because in large part governments build the road that are the transportation systems, they need to know what roads to build and where. Governments set the standards for the kind of vehicles that operate on roads. Governments maintain law and order on the road, and the rules of the road.

The primary purpose for Governments is to improve the well-being of all of us. This can mean gathering technology resources or conducting research into better transportation systems. In part this is so that the government can more effectively use the dollars it spends on transportation systems, by encouraging or requiring that the transportation system is as efficient as possible.

U.S. Government

U.S. Dept of Transportation – Research and Innovative Technology Administration – “focuses on intelligent vehicles, intelligent infrastructure and the creation of an intelligent transportation system through integration with and between these two components … connected vehicle research – a multimodal initiative that aims to enable safe, interoperable networked wireless communications among vehicles, the infrastructure, and passengers personal communications devices.”

Intended to address these key concerns:

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  • Safety: over 5.8 million crashes per year .. resulting in 37,000 deaths annually .. direct economic cost of $230.6 billion and are the leading cause of death for ages four to 34. Connected vehicle safety applications, using vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications technology based on Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC), are designed to increase drivers’ situational awareness and reduce or eliminate crashes by advising or warning drivers of dangerous situations.
  • Mobility: Traffic congestion is an $87.2 billion annual drain on the U.S. economy, with 4.2 billion hours and 2.8 billion gallons of fuel spent sitting in traffic, the equivalent of one work week and three weeks worth of gas every year. Connected vehicle, using V2I capabilities and anonymous information .. potential to provide transportation agencies with dramatically improved quality and quantity of real-time traffic, transit and parking data ..
  • Environment: Tailpipe emissions from vehicles are the single largest human-made source of carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxides (NOx) and methane. Vehicles that are stationary, idling and traveling in a stop-and-go pattern due to congestion emit more than those traveling in free flow conditions. Connected vehicle environmental research is designed to provide data that transportation managers can use to better understand the potential environmental impacts of transportation management decisions made in real time.

Research programs:

  • Vehicle to Vehicle (V2V) Communications for Safety – – This research will investigate key questions such as are vehicle based safety applications using V2V communications effective and do they have benefits.
  • Vehicle to Infrastructure (V2I) Communications for Safety – – This research will investigate similar questions about V2I communications, with an initial focus on applications based on the relay of traffic signal phase and timing information to vehicles.
  • Real-Time Data Capture and Management – – This research will assess what traffic, transit and freight data are available today from various sources, and consider how to integrate data from vehicles acting as “probes” in the system.
  • Dynamic Mobility Applications – – This research will examine what technologies can help people and goods effortlessly transfer from one mode of travel (car, bus, truck, train, etc.) or route to another for the fastest and most environmentally friendly trip.
  • Road Weather Management – – This research will consider how vehicle-based data on current weather conditions can be used by travelers and transportation agencies to enable decision-making that takes current weather conditions and future weather forecasts into account.
  • Applications for the Environment: Real-Time Information Synthesis (AERIS) – – This research will explore how anonymous data from tailpipe emissions can be combined with other environmental data.


  • National Transportation Library – – The National TransportationLibrary (NTL) contains documents on intelligent transportation systems topics published or sponsored by the U.S. Dept. of Transportation. Most of the documents are in PDF format.
  • ITS Research Fact Sheets –

Dept of Energy Vehicle Technologies Program

  • – The Vehicle Technologies Program is developing more energy efficient and environmentally friendly highway transportation technologies that will enable America to use less petroleum. The long-term aim is to develop “leap frog” technologies that will provide Americans with greater freedom of mobility and energy security, while lowering costs and reducing impacts on the environment.
  • – funds technology development that (1) supports mid-term automotive and truck fuel economy improvements and emissions reduction while (2) aiding the longer term transition to a hydrogen-based transportation system.
  • Hybrid and Vehicle Systems – – provides an overarching vehicle systems perspective to the technology research and development (R&D) activities of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) vehicle research programs, and identifies major opportunities for improving vehicle efficiencies.
  • Energy Storage – – critical enabling technologies for the development of advanced, fuel-efficient, light- and heavy-duty vehicles, which are critical components of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Energy Strategic Goal: “to protect our national and economic security by promoting a diverse supply and delivery of reliable, affordable, and environmentally sound energy.”
  • Power Electronics and Electrical Machines – – Advanced electric drive vehicles such as hybrid-electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, fuel cell electric vehicles, and pure electric vehicles, require power electronics and electrical machines (PEEM) to function. These devices allow the vehicle to use energy from the battery to assist in the propulsion of the vehicle, either on their own or in combination with an engine.
  • Advanced Combustion Engines – – significant improvements in energy efficiency and emissions reduction are still possible. Because of their relatively low cost, high performance, and ability to use renewable fuels (e.g. ethanol and biodiesel), conventional vehicles with combustion engines will likely dominate the market for at least the next 20 years.
  • Fuels and Lubricants – –
  • Fuel Cell Technologies Program – – a comprehensive portfolio of activities that address the full range of barriers facing the development and deployment of hydrogen and fuel cells with the ultimate goals of decreasing our dependence on oil, reducing carbon emissions, and enabling clean, reliable power generation.
  • Biomass Program – – Biomass is a clean, renewable energy source that can help to significantly diversify transportation fuels in the United States. The Biomass Program is helping transform the nation’s renewable and abundant biomass resources into cost-competitive, high-performance biofuels, bioproducts, and biopower.

Battery Technology @ Argonne National Laboratory – Argonne National Laboratory has an extensive battery technology research program. Lithium-ion batteries also are being developed for other uses, including energy storage devices for electric and hybrid electric vehicles, biomedicine, and space. As battery developers work to create better lithium-ion batteries, they are faced with numerous challenges such as safety, cost, and calendar life. Under its Electrochemical Technology Program Argonne is addressing these challenges.

Idaho National Lab – Advanced Vehicle Testing Activity – analysis results for the Advanced Vehicle Testing Activity (AVTA) performed by INL and testing partner ECOtality North America

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The primary goal of AVTA is to provide benchmark data for technology modeling, and research and development programs, by benchmarking and validating the performance of light-, medium-, and heavy-duty vehicles that feature one or more advanced technologies, including:

  • Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle technologies
  • Extended range electric vehicle technologies
  • Hybrid electric, pure electric, and hydraulic technologies
  • Advanced electric drive technologies and engine technologies
  • Advanced energy storage (i.e., batteries) technologies and chemistries
  • Advanced climate control, power electronic, and other ancillary systems technologies
  • Internal combustion engines burning advanced fuels (i.e., 100% hydrogen and hydrogen/CNG-blended fuels)

Energy Dept Hydrogen Fuel Cells Program

  • – Home page
  • – Hydrogen production
  • – Hydrogen delivery
  • – Hydrogen storage
  • – Hydrogen manufacturing
  • – Fuel cells
  • – Applications / Technology validation
  • – Hydrogen safety
  • – Codes & Standards
  • – Education
  • – Basic Research
  • – Systems analysis
  • – Systems integration
  • – Roadmaps / Vision documents
  • – Program Plans
  • – Program records
  • – Annual progress reports
  • – Reports to Congress
  • – Annual review report on the various aspects of hydrogen fuel cell infrastructure being developed at various companies.

Dept of Energy – Alternate Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center – The Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center (AFDC) provides information, data, and tools to help fleets and other transportation decision makers find ways to reduce petroleum consumption through the use of alternative and renewable fuels, advanced vehicles, and other fuel-saving measures.

Fuels –

  • Biodiesel –
  • Electricity –
  • Ethanol –
  • Hydrogen –
  • Natural Gas –
  • Propane –
  • Emerging Fuels –
  • Alternative fueling stations –
  • Fuel properties – – and blends -
  • Fuel prices –
  • Vehicles –
  • Electric vehicle basics –
  • Hybrid vehicle basics –
  • Plug-in Hybrid vehicle basics –
  • Fuel cell vehicles –
  • Flex Fuel Vehicles –
  • Natural gas vehicles –
  • Propane vehicles –
  • Vehicle conversions –
  • Idle reduction –
  • Incentives and Laws –
  • Data, Analysis, and Trends –
  • Vehicles –
  • Fuels –
  • Infrastructure –
  • Biomass –
  • Clean Cities –
  • Information resources –
  • Tools & Applications –
  • Alternative fueling station locator –
  • Biofuels Atlas –
  • Vehicle cost calculator –


California’s Advanced Clean Cars program – – California has a long and successful history of adopting technology-advancing vehicle emission standards to protect public health. The pioneering measures have accelerated the introduction of cleaner cars for a healthier California. The Air Resources Board recently proposed a new emissions-control program for model years 2017 through 2025. The program would combine the control of smog, soot and global warming gases and requirements for greater numbers of zero-emission vehicles into a single package of standards called Advanced Clean Cars.

Low-Emission Vehicle Program – – Following a November 5, 1998, hearing, the Air Resources Board (ARB) amended California’s Low-Emission Vehicle (LEV) regulations. The new amendments, known as LEV II, will advance the state’s clean air goals through improved emission reduction standards for automobiles. These amendments were formally adopted by the ARB on August 5, 1999, and, after approval by the California Office of Administrative Law on October 28, 1999, became operative November 27, 1999. The ARB first adopted LEV standards in 1990. These first LEV standards run from 1994 through 2003. LEV II regulations, running from 2004 through 2010, represent continuing progress in emission reductions. As the state’s passenger vehicle fleet continues to grow and more sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks are used as passenger cars rather than work vehicles, the new, more stringent LEV II standards are necessary for California to meet federally-mandated clean air goals outlined in the 1994 State Implementation Plan (SIP).

Amendments to the Low-Emission Vehicle Program – LEV III – – The proposed amendments, to be known as LEV III, ask for more stringent tailpipe and greenhouse gas emission standards for new passenger vehicles. Combining the control of smog-causing pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions into a single coordinated package of standards is a new approach to ARB’s motor vehicle standards. The new approach also includes efforts to support and accelerate the numbers of plug-in hybrids and zero-emission vehicles in California.

Fuels and Transportation Division of the California Energy Commission – – The Energy Commission is concerned with the impact transportation fuels have on California. The Fuels and Transportation Division was created to focus on transportation energy and alternatives to conventional fossil fuels. The Division’s mission is to ensure that adequate and reliable transportation energy is provided to the California transportation sector while balancing economic, public health, safety, and environmental consequences. The division is organized into three technical offices.


About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.

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