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Research to Watch

October 20, 2009

Project: Next-generation internal-combustion engine
Principal institutions: General Motors/University of Michigan Collaborative Research Laboratories
gmcrl-esr.engin.umich.edu

New technology combining elements of spark ignition and diesel engines promises to be 15 percent more fuel-efficient than conventional gas engines.

Project: Active traffic Management
Principal institutions: U.S. Department of Transportation
www.intellidriveusa.org/research/michigan-testbed.php

Wireless communication between vehicles and roadway infrastructure could reduce congestion by providing real-time information to drivers and traffic managers.

Project: Carbon-nanotube ultracapacitors
Principal institutions: MIT
lees.mit.edu/lees/ultracapacitors.htm

Advanced ultracapacitors for hybrid and electric cars would charge and discharge much faster than batteries.

Project: National Bus Rapid Transit Institute
Principal institutions: University of South Florida
www.nbrti.org

Is working to combine buses with intelligent transportation technologies to create systems that can substitute for light rail or subways in cities.

Project: Aviation biofuels
Principal institutions: Boeing
www.newairplane.com/environment/sustainablebiofuels

Different biofuels are being tested for use in commercial jets.

Project: The Civitas Initiative
Principal institutions: European Commission
www.civitas.eu

Is developing integrated technological and policy-based approaches to energy-efficient transportation in cities.

Project: Lithium-air batteries
Principal institutions: IBM
www.almaden.ibm.com

Technology that could store 10 times as much energy as conventional lithium batteries.

Project: Next-generation train
Principal institutions: German Aerospace Center
www.dlr.de

This new system would use half as much energy as other high-speed trains and be 25 percent faster.

Project: Energy Biosciences Institute
Principal institutions: University of California, Berkeley; Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; University of Illinois; BP
www.energybiosciencesinstitute.org

Plans to develop biofuels using synthetic biology.

Project: X-37B
Principal institutions: U.S. Air Force, Boeing

The first demonstration of an unmanned military space plane will take place in January 2010. In theory, a space plane could take passengers from London to Sydney in four to five hours.

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