DOE funding for vehicle technology shows ‘parity for propane’

Industry leaders are hailing Department of Energy (DOE) research funding totaling more than $9 million for vehicle technologies utilizing propane. They are also recognizing the years-long path to get LPG on an equal playing field with other energy sources in the top level of government.

“There’s been a concerted effort between PERC and NPGA to reengage with the Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO),” says Cinch Munson, senior vice president of business development at the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC). “PERC and NPGA coordinated our efforts well, and what we saw happen this year was the fruits of that labor.”

Six propane-related projects were part of DOE’s July pledge of $139 million for 55 projects selected to advance innovative vehicle technologies. The VTO, an Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy office that supports research, development and deployment of efficient and sustainable transportation technologies, made the funding available to applicants in specific topic areas. But the annual appropriations process in Congress makes the funding possible.

“We have been working on this for several years to ensure there is parity for propane compared to other alternative fuels when it comes to research and development funding opportunities,” says Mike Caldarera, senior vice president of advocacy and technical services at the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA).

In its meetings with legislators charged with determining the levels of funding authorized for each agency, NPGA conveys the value and environmental benefits of propane and highlights potential projects where the funds could be used, Caldarera says.

The amount awarded for propane-related projects in fiscal year 2020 – $9,017,921 – nearly doubled the $5 million the industry received in appropriations funding for propane engine technology in 2016.