Skip to Main Content
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Board on Energy and Environmental Systems
About BEES
Published Reports
Board Members
Current and Past Projects
Board Meetings & Workshops
BEES Staff

Published Reports

2016 2015 2014 2013  2012  2011  2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1998



Assessment of Solid-State Lighting, Phase Two


The standard incandescent light bulb, which still works mainly as Thomas Edison invented it, converts more than 90% of the consumed electricity into heat. Given the availability of newer lighting technologies that convert a greater percentage of electricity into useful light, there is potential to decrease the amount of energy used for lighting in both commercial and residential applications. Although technologies such as compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) have emerged in the past few decades and will help achieve the goal of increased energy efficiency, solid-state lighting (SSL) stands to play a large role in dramatically decreasing U.S. energy consumption for lighting.

Since the publication of the 2013 National Research Council report Assessment of Advanced Solid-State Lighting, the penetration of SSL has increased dramatically, with a resulting savings in energy and costs that were foreshadowed by that study. What was not anticipated then is the dramatic dislocation and restructuring of the SSL marketplace, as cost reductions for light-emitting diode (LED) components reduced profitability for LED manufacturers. At the same time, there has been the emergence of new applications for SSL, which have the potential to create new markets and commercial opportunities for the SSL industry.

Assessment of Solid-State Lighting, Phase Two discusses these aspects of change—highlighting the progress of commercialization and acceptance of SSL and reviewing the technical advances and challenges in achieving higher efficacy for LEDs and organic light-emitting diodes. This report will also discuss the recent trends in SSL manufacturing and opportunities for new applications and describe the role played by the Department of Energy (DOE) Lighting Program in the development of SSL.


The Power of Change: Innovation for Development and Deployment of Increasingly Clean Electric Power Technologies

Released 08-30-16


Electricity, supplied reliably and affordably, is foundational to the U.S. economy and is utterly indispensable to modern society. However, emissions resulting from many forms of electricity generation create environmental risks that could have significant negative economic, security, and human health consequences. Large-scale installation of cleaner power generation has been generally hampered because greener technologies are more expensive than the technologies that currently produce most of our power. Rather than trade affordability and reliability for low emissions, is there a way to balance all three?

The Power of Change: Innovation for Development and Deployment of Increasingly Clean Energy Technologies considers how to speed up innovations that would dramatically improve the performance and lower the cost of currently available technologies while also developing new advanced cleaner energy technologies. According to this report, there is an opportunity for the United States to continue to lead in the pursuit of increasingly clean, more efficient electricity through innovation in advanced technologies. The Power of Change: Innovation for Development and Deployment of Increasingly Clean Energy Technologies makes the case that America’s advantages—world-class universities and national laboratories, a vibrant private sector, and innovative states, cities, and regions that are free to experiment with a variety of public policy approaches—position the United States to create and lead a new clean energy revolution. This study focuses on five paths to accelerate the market adoption of increasing clean energy and efficiency technologies: (1) expanding the portfolio of cleaner energy technology options; (2) leveraging the advantages of energy efficiency; (3) facilitating the development of increasing clean technologies, including renewables, nuclear, and cleaner fossil; (4) improving the existing technologies, systems, and infrastructure; and (5) leveling the playing field for cleaner energy technologies.

The Power of Change: Innovation for Development and Deployment of Increasingly Clean Energy Technologies is a call for leadership to transform the United States energy sector in order to both mitigate the risks of greenhouse gas and other pollutants and to spur future economic growth. This study’s focus on science, technology, and economic policy makes it a valuable resource to guide support that produces innovation to meet energy challenges now and for the future.


Electricity Use in Rural and Islanded Communities: Summary of a Workshop (BEES)  

Workshop Highlights

Released 6.14.16

During this workshop, speakers were encouraged to identify challenges and opportunities for increasing efficiency, reducing emissions and costs, and improving resiliency, as well as to discuss innovative clean energy strategies being implemented in rural and islanded communities. Speakers were encouraged to offer to the QER Task Force insights on research needs and state and local policies, in addition to recommendations on federal policies (examples of federal policies include executive actions, legislation, R&D initiatives, and/or funding distributions that can be implemented in both the short and the long term).

 21ctp3 Cover

Review of the 21st Century Truck Partnership, Third Report  (BEES)

Released 9.11.15

The 21st Century Truck Partnership (21CTP) works to reduce fuel consumption and emissions, increase heavy-duty vehicle safety, and support research, development, and demonstration to initiate commercially viable products and systems. This report is the third in a series of three by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine that have reviewed the research and development initiatives carried out by the 21CTP. Review of the 21st Century Truck Partnership, Third Report builds on the Phase 1 and 2 reviews and reports, and also comments on changes and progress since the Phase 2 report was issued in 2012.




 CAFE 2 Cover

Cost, Effectiveness, and Deployment of Fuel Economy Technologies for Light-Duty Vehicles (BEES)

Released 6.18.15

The light-duty vehicle fleet is expected to undergo substantial technological changes over the next several decades. New powertrain designs, alternative fuels, advanced materials and significant changes to the vehicle body are being driven by increasingly stringent fuel economy and greenhouse gas emission standards. By the end of the next decade, cars and light-duty trucks will be more fuel efficient, weigh less, emit less air pollutants, have more safety features, and will be more expensive to purchase relative to current vehicles. Though the gasoline-powered spark ignition engine will continue to be the dominant powertrain configuration even through 2030, such vehicles will be equipped with advanced technologies, materials, electronics and controls, and aerodynamics. And by 2030, the deployment of alternative methods to propel and fuel vehicles and alternative modes of transportation, including autonomous vehicles, will be well underway. What are these new technologies - how will they work, and will some technologies be more effective than others? Written to inform The United States Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission standards, this new report from the National Research Council is a technical evaluation of costs, benefits, and implementation issues of fuel reduction technologies for next-generation light-duty vehicles. Cost, Effectiveness, and Deployment of Fuel Economy Technologies for Light-Duty Vehicles estimates the cost, potential efficiency improvements, and barriers to commercial deployment of technologies that might be employed from 2020 to 2030. This report describes these promising technologies and makes recommendations for their inclusion on the list of technologies applicable for the 2017-2025 CAFE standards.


 2015_EV Cover

Overcoming Barriers to Deployment of Plug-in Electric Vehicles (BEES, TRB)

Released 4.22.15

In the past few years, interest in plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) has grown. Advances in battery and other technologies, new federal standards for carbon-dioxide emissions and fuel economy, state zero-emission-vehicle requirements, and the current administration's goal of putting millions of alternative-fuel vehicles on the road have all highlighted PEVs as a transportation alternative. Consumers are also beginning to recognize the advantages of PEVs over conventional vehicles, such as lower operating costs, smoother operation, and better acceleration; the ability to fuel up at home; and zero tailpipe emissions when the vehicle operates solely on its battery. There are, however, barriers to PEV deployment, including the vehicle cost, the short all-electric driving range, the long battery charging time, uncertainties about battery life, the few choices of vehicle models, and the need for a charging infrastructure to support PEVs. What should industry do to improve the performance of PEVs and make them more attractive to consumers? At the request of Congress, Overcoming Barriers to Deployment of Plug-in Electric Vehicles identifies barriers to the introduction of electric vehicles and recommends ways to mitigate these barriers. This report examines the characteristics and capabilities of electric vehicle technologies, such as cost, performance, range, safety, and durability, and assesses how these factors might create barriers to widespread deployment. Overcoming Barriers to Deployment of Plug-in Electric Vehicles provides an overview of the current status of PEVs and makes recommendations to spur the industry and increase the attractiveness of this promising technology for consumers. Through consideration of consumer behaviors, tax incentives, business models, incentive programs, and infrastructure needs, this book studies the state of the industry and makes recommendations to further its development and acceptance.


 2014 MHDVII Cover

Reducing the Fuel Consumption and Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicles, Phase Two: First Report (BEES)

Released 4.2.14

Medium- and heavy-duty trucks, motor coaches, and transit buses - collectively, "medium- and heavy-duty vehicles", or MHDVs - are used in every sector of the economy. The fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions of MHDVs have become a focus of legislative and regulatory action in the past few years.Reducing the Fuel Consumption and Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicles, Phase Two is a follow-on to the National Research Council's 2010 report, Technologies and Approaches to Reducing the Fuel Consumption of Medium-and Heavy-Duty Vehicles. That report provided a series of findings and recommendations on the development of regulations for reducing fuel consumption of MHDVs. This report comprises the first periodic, five-year follow-on to the 2010 report. Reducing the Fuel Consumption and Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicles, Phase Two reviews NHTSA fuel consumption regulations and considers the technological, market and regulatory factors that may be of relevance to a revised and updated regulatory regime taking effect for model years 2019-2022. The report analyzes and provides options for improvements to the certification and compliance procedures for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles; reviews an updated analysis of the makeup and characterization of the medium- and heavy-duty truck fleet; examines the barriers to and the potential applications of natural gas in class 2b through class 8 vehicles; and addresses uncertainties and performs sensitivity analyses for the fuel consumption and cost/benefit estimates.



The Resilience of the Electric Power Delivery System in Response to Terrorism and Natural Disasters: Summary of a Workshop (BEES)

Released 10.22.13

The Resilience of the Electric Power Delivery System in Response to Terrorism and Natural Disasters is the summary of a workshop convened in February 2013 as a follow-up to the release of the National Research Council report Terrorism and the Electric Power Delivery System. That report had been written in 2007 for the Department of Homeland Security, but publication was delayed because of security concerns. While most of the committee's findings were still relevant, many developments affecting vulnerability had occurred in the interval. The 2013 workshop was a discussion of the committee\'s results, what had changed in recent years, and how lessons learned about the grid's resilience to terrorism could be applied to other threats to the grid resulting from natural disasters. The purpose was not to translate the entire report into the present, but to focus on key issues relevant to making the grid sufficiently robust that it could handle inevitable failures without disastrous impact. The workshop focused on five key areas: physical vulnerabilities of the grid; cybersecurity; mitigation and response to outages; community resilience and the provision of critical services; and future technologies and policies that could enhance the resilience of the electric power delivery system.
The electric power transmission and distribution system (the grid) is an extraordinarily complex network of wires, transformers, and associated equipment and control software designed to transmit electricity from where it is generated, usually in centralized power plants, to commercial, residential, and industrial users. Because the U.S. infrastructure has become increasingly dependent on electricity, vulnerabilities in the grid have the potential to cascade well beyond whether the lights turn on, impacting among other basic services such as the fueling infrastructure, the economic system, and emergency services. The Resilience of the Electric Power Delivery System in Response to Terrorism and Natural Disasters discusses physical vulnerabilities and the cybersecurity of the grid, ways in which communities respond to widespread outages and how to minimize these impacts, the grid of tomorrow, and how resilience can be encouraged and built into the grid in the future.


 2013 EV Interim

Overcoming Barriers to Electric-Vehicle Deployment: Interim Report (BEES, TRB)

Released 6.18.13

The electric vehicle offers many promises—increasing U.S. energy security by reducing petroleum dependence, contributing to climate-change initiatives by decreasing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, stimulating long-term economic growth through the development of new technologies and industries, and improving public health by improving local air quality. There are, however, substantial technical, social, and economic barriers to widespread adoption of electric vehicles, including vehicle cost, small driving range, long charging times, and the need for a charging infrastructure. In addition, people are unfamiliar with electric vehicles, are uncertain about their costs and benefits, and have diverse needs that current electric vehicles might not meet. Although a person might derive some personal benefits from ownership, the costs of achieving the social benefits, such as reduced GHG emissions, are borne largely by the people who purchase the vehicles. Given the recognized barriers to electric-vehicle adoption, Congress asked the Department of Energy (DOE) to commission a study by the National Academies to address market barriers that are slowing the purchase of electric vehicles and hindering the deployment of supporting infrastructure. As a result of the request, the National Research Council (NRC)—a part of the National Academies—appointed the Committee on Overcoming Barriers to Electric-Vehicle Deployment.
This committee documented their findings in two reports—a short interim report focused on near-term options, and a final comprehensive report. Overcoming Barriers to Electric-Vehicle Deployment fulfills the request for the short interim report that addresses specifically the following issues: infrastructure needs for electric vehicles, barriers to deploying the infrastructure, and possible roles of the federal government in overcoming the barriers. This report also includes an initial discussion of the pros and cons of the possible roles. This interim report does not address the committee's full statement of task and does not offer any recommendations because the committee is still in its early stages of data-gathering. The committee will continue to gather and review information and conduct analyses through late spring 2014 and will issue its final report in late summer 2014.
Overcoming Barriers to Electric-Vehicle Deployment focuses on the light-duty vehicle sector in the United States and restricts its discussion of electric vehicles to plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), which include battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). The common feature of these vehicles is that their batteries are charged by being plugged into the electric grid. BEVs differ from PHEVs because they operate solely on electricity stored in a battery (that is, there is no other power source); PHEVs have internal combustion engines that can supplement the electric power train. Although this report considers PEVs generally, the committee recognizes that there are fundamental differences between PHEVs and BEVs.


 2013 _Alternative Vehicles

Transitions to Alternative Vehicles and Fuels (BEES)

Released 3.14.13

For a century, almost all light-duty vehicles (LDVs) have been powered by internal combustion engines (ICEs) operating on petroleum fuels. Energy security concerns over petroleum imports and the effect of greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions on global climate are driving interest in alternatives. This report assesses the potential for reducing petroleum consumption and GHG emissions by 80% across the U.S. LDV fleet by 2050, relative to 2005. It examines the current capability and estimated future performance and costs for each vehicle type and non-petroleum-based fuel technology as options that could significantly contribute to these goals. By analyzing scenarios that combine various fuel and vehicle pathways, the report also identifies barriers to implementation of these technologies and suggests policies to achieve the desired reductions. Several scenarios are promising, but strong, effective, and sustained but adaptive policies such as research and development (R&D), subsidies, energy taxes, or regulations will be necessary to overcome barriers such as cost and consumer choice.


 2013_Inertial Fusion Energy

An Assessment of the Prospects for Inertial Fusion Energy (BEES, BPA)

Released 2.20.13

The potential for using fusion energy to produce commercial electric power was first explored in the 1950s. Harnessing fusion energy offers the prospect of a nearly carbon-free energy source with a virtually unlimited supply of fuel. Unlike nuclear fission plants, appropriately designed fusion power plants would not produce the large amounts of high-level nuclear waste that requires long-term disposal. Due to these prospects, many nations have initiated research and development (R&D) programs aimed at developing fusion as an energy source. Two R&D approaches are being explored: magnetic fusion energy (MFE) and inertial fusion energy (IFE). An Assessment of the Prospects for Inertial Fusion Energy describes and assesses the current status of IFE research in the United States; compares the various technical approaches to IFE; and identifies the scientific and engineering challenges associated with developing inertial confinement fusion (ICF) in particular as an energy source. It also provides guidance on an R&D roadmap at the conceptual level for a national program focusing on the design and construction of an inertial fusion energy demonstration plant.


 2013_Inertial Confinement

Assessment of Inertial Confinement Fusion Targets (BEES, BPA)

Released 2.20.13

In the fall of 2010, the Office of the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Secretary for Science asked for a National Research Council (NRC) committee to investigate the prospects for generating power using inertial confinement fusion (ICF) concepts, acknowledging that a key test of viability for this concept—ignition —could be demonstrated at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in the relatively near term. The committee was asked to provide an unclassified report. However, DOE indicated that to fully assess this topic, the committee's deliberations would have to be informed by the results of some classified experiments and information, particularly in the area of ICF targets and nonproliferation. Thus, the Panel on the Assessment of Inertial Confinement Fusion Targets ("the panel") was assembled, composed of experts able to access the needed information. The panel was charged with advising the Committee on the Prospects for Inertial Confinement Fusion Energy Systems on these issues, both by internal discussion and by this unclassified report.

A Panel on Fusion Target Physics ("the panel") will serve as a technical resource to the Committee on Inertial Confinement Energy Systems ("the Committee") and will prepare a report that describes the R&D challenges to providing suitable targets, on the basis of parameters established and provided to the Panel by the Committee. The Panel on Fusion Target Physics will prepare a report that will assess the current performance of fusion targets associated with various ICF concepts in order to understand:

1. The spectrum output; 2. The illumination geometry; 3. The high-gain geometry; and 4. The robustness of the target design. The panel addressed the potential impacts of the use and development of current concepts for Inertial Fusion Energy on the proliferation of nuclear weapons information and technology, as appropriate. The Panel examined technology options, but does not provide recommendations specific to any currently operating or proposed ICF facility.


 2013_Solid State Lighting

Assessment of Advanced Solid-State Lighting (BEES)

Released 1.29.13

The standard incandescent light bulb, which still works mainly as Thomas Edison invented it, converts more than 90 percent of the consumed electricity into heat. Given the availability of newer lighting technologies that convert a greater percentage of electricity into useful light, there is potential to decrease the amount of energy used for lighting in both commercial and residential applications. Although technologies such as compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) have emerged in the past few decades and will help achieve the goal of increased energy efficiency, solid-state lighting (SSL) stands to play a large role in dramatically decreasing U.S. energy consumption for lighting. This report summarizes the current status of SSL technologies and products—light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and organic LEDs (OLEDs)—and evaluates barriers to their improved cost and performance. It also discusses factors involved in achieving widespread deployment and consumer acceptance of SSL products. These factors include the perceived quality of light emitted by SSL devices, ease of use and the useful lifetime of these devices, issues of initial high cost, and possible benefits of reduced energy consumption.

Learn more about SSL technologies


 2013_Marine and Hydrokinetic

An Evaluation of the U.S. Department of Energy's Marine and Hydrokinetic Resource Assessments (BEES, OSB)

Released 1.29.13

Increasing renewable energy development, both within the United States and abroad, has rekindled interest in the potential for marine and hydrokinetic (MHK) resources to contribute to electricity generation. These resources derive from ocean tides, waves, and currents; temperature gradients in the ocean; and free-flowing rivers and streams. One measure of the interest in the possible use of these resources for electricity generation is the increasing number of permits that have been filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). As of December 2012, FERC had issued 4 licenses and 84 preliminary permits, up from virtually zero a decade ago. However, most of these permits are for developments along the Mississippi River, and the actual benefit realized from all MHK resources is extremely small. The first U.S. commercial gridconnected project, a tidal project in Maine with a capacity of less than 1 megawatt (MW), is currently delivering a fraction of that power to the grid and is due to be fully installed in 2013. As part of its assessment of MHK resources, DOE asked the National Research Council (NRC) to provide detailed evaluations. In response, the NRC formed the Committee on Marine Hydrokinetic Energy Technology Assessment. As directed in its statement of task (SOT), the committee first developed an interim report, released in June 2011, which focused on the wave and tidal resource assessments (Appendix B). The current report contains the committee's evaluation of all five of the DOE resource categories as well as the committee's comments on the overall MHK resource assessment process. This summary focuses on the committee's overarching findings and conclusions regarding a conceptual framework for developing the resource assessments, the aggregation of results into a single number, and the consistency across and coordination between the individual resource assessments. Critiques of the individual resource assessment, further discussion of the practical MHK resource base, and overarching conclusions and recommendations are explained in An Evaluation of the U.S. Department of Energy's Marine and Hydrokinetic Resource Assessment.
 2012_US DRIVE

Review of the Research Program of the U.S. DRIVE Partnership: Fourth Report (BEES)

Released 1.23.13

Review of the Research Program of the U.S. DRIVE Partnership: Fourth Report follows on three previous NRC reviews of the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership, which was the predecessor of the U.S. DRIVE Partnership (NRC, 2005, 2008a, 2010). The U.S. DRIVE (Driving Research and Innovation for Vehicle Efficiency and Energy Sustainability) vision, according to the charter of the Partnership, is this: American consumers have a broad range of affordable personal transportation choices that reduce petroleum consumption and significantly reduce harmful emissions from the transportation sector. Its mission is as follows: accelerate the development of pre-competitive and innovative technologies to enable a full range of efficient and clean advanced light-duty vehicles (LDVs), as well as related energy infrastructure. The Partnership focuses on precompetitive research and development (R&D) that can help to accelerate the emergence of advanced technologies to be commercialization-feasible. The guidance for the work of the U.S. DRIVE Partnership as well as the priority setting and targets for needed research are provided by joint industry/government technical teams. This structure has been demonstrated to be an effective means of identifying high-priority, long-term precompetitive research needs for each technology with which the Partnership is involved. Technical areas in which research and development as well as technology validation programs have been pursued include the following: internal combustion engines (ICEs) potentially operating on conventional and various alternative fuels, automotive fuel cell power systems, hydrogen storage systems (especially onboard vehicles), batteries and other forms of electrochemical energy storage, electric propulsion systems, hydrogen production and delivery, and materials leading to vehicle weight reductions.



Terrorism and the Electric Power Delivery System (BEES)

Released 11.14.12

The U.S. power delivery system is remarkably complex. Its network of substations, transmission lines, and distribution lines are not designed to withstand or quickly recover from damage inflicted simultaneously on multiple components. In addition, investment to strengthen and upgrade the grid has lagged, resulting in a high-voltage system with many heavily stressed parts. Overall, the nation’s power grid is in need of expansion and upgrading. Since all parts of the economy—as well as human health and welfare—depend on electricity, the results of a well-planned and coordinated attack on the power delivery system could be particularly devastating. This report1 examines technologies and strategies that could make the power delivery system less vulnerable to attacks, restore power faster after an attack, and make critical services less vulnerable while the power is out. The approaches explored in the report can greatly reduce the grid’s vulnerability to cascading failures, whether initiated by terrorists, nature, or malfunctions.


 2012__Sustainable Development of Algal Biofuels

Sustainable Development of Algal Biofuels (BANR, BEES)

Released 10.25.12

Biofuels made from algae are gaining attention as a domestic source of renewable fuel. However, with current technologies, scaling up production of algal biofuels to meet even 5 percent of U.S. transportation fuel needs could create unsustainable demands for energy, water, and nutrient resources. Continued research and development could yield innovations to address these challenges, but determining if algal biofuel is a viable fuel alternative will involve comparing the environmental, economic and social impacts of algal biofuel production and use to those associated with petroleum-based fuels and other fuel sources. Sustainable Development of Algal Biofuels was produced at the request of the U.S. Department of Energy.


 2012_Interim Report_Inertial Fusion Energy

Interim Report-Status of the Study "An Assessment of the Prospects for Inertial Fusion Energy" (BPA, BEES)

Released 3.19.12

The scientific and technological progress in inertial confinement fusion has been substantial during the past decade. However, many of the technologies needed for an integrated inertial fusion energy system are still at an early stage of technological maturity. For all approaches to inertial fusion energy there remain critical scientific and engineering challenges.

In this interim report of the study An Assessment of the Prospects for Inertial Fusion Energy, the Committee on the Prospects for Inertial Confinement Fusion Energy Systems outlines their preliminary conclusions and recommendations of the feasibility of inertial fusion energy. The committee also describes its anticipated next steps as it prepares its final report.


 2012_Effective Tracking of Building Energy Use

Effective Tracking of Building Energy Use: Improving the Commercial Buildings and Residential Energy Consumption Surveys (BEES, DEPS)

Released 2.7.12

The United States is responsible for nearly one-fifth of the world's energy consumption. Population growth, and the associated growth in housing, commercial floor space, transportation, goods, and services is expected to cause a 0.7 percent annual increase in energy demand for the foreseeable future. The energy used by the commercial and residential sectors represents approximately 40 percent of the nation's total energy consumption, and the share of these two sectors is expected to increase in the future.

The Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS) and the Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS) are used to collect, analyze, and disseminate energy data in the coordination of a comprehensive federal energy plan. Effective Tracking of Building Energy Use: Improving the Commercial Buildings and Residential Energy Consumption Surveys evaluates the designs of these two surveys and recommends updates for each survey based on current and expected future data needs. This book examines ways that the CBECS and the RECS can best take advantage of recent developments in survey methods and ensure the relevance of the data for meeting increased user needs in a world characterized by a rapidly changing energy landscape.


 2012_TRB Special Report Correct size

TRB Special Report 308: The Safety Challenge and Promise of Automotive Electronics: Insights from Unintended Acceleration (TRB, BEES, CSTB)

Released 1.17.12

TRB Special Report 308: The Safety Challenge and Promise of Automotive Electronics: Insights from Unintended Acceleration examines how the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) regulatory, research, and defect investigation programs can be strengthened to meet the safety assurance and oversight challenges arising from the expanding functionality and use of automotive electronics. The report gives particular attention to NHTSA's response to consumer complaints of vehicles accelerating unintentionally and to concerns that faulty electronic systems may have been to blame.

The committee that produced the report found that the increasingly capable and complex electronics systems being added to automobiles present many opportunities for making driving safer but also present new demands for ensuring their safe performance. These safety assurance demands pertain both to the automotive industry's development and deployment of electronics systems and to NHTSA's safety oversight role. With regard to the latter, the committee recommends that NHTSA give explicit consideration to the oversight challenges arising from automotive electronics and that the agency develop and articulate a long-term strategy for meeting these challenges.



Review of the 21st Century Truck Partnership, Second Report (BEES)

Released 11.15.11

In July 2010, the National Research Council (NRC) appointed the Committee on Review of the 21st Century Truck Partnership, Phase 2 to conduct an independent review of the 21st Century Truck Partnership (21CTP). The 21CTP is a cooperative research and development (R&D) partnership including four federal agencies-the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-and 15 industrial partners. The purpose of this Partnership is to reduce fuel consumption and emissions, increase heavy-duty vehicle safety, and support research, development, and demonstration to initiate commercially viable products and systems. This is the NRC's second report on the topic and it includes the committee's review of the Partnership as a whole, its major areas of focus, 21CTP's management and priority setting, efficient operations, and the new SuperTruck program.

Report in Brief



Renewable Fuel Standard: Potential Economic and Environmental Effects of U.S. Biofuel Policy (DEPS, BEES, DELS, BANR)

Released 10.4.11

In the United States, we have come to depend upon plentiful and inexpensive energy to support our economy and lifestyles. In recent years, many questions have been raised regarding the sustainability of our current pattern of high consumption of nonrenewable energy and its environmental consequences. Further, because the United States imports about 55 percent of the nation's consumption of crude oil, there are additional concerns about the security of supply. Hence, efforts are being made to find alternatives to our current pathway, including greater energy efficiency and use of energy sources that could lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions such as nuclear and renewable sources, including solar, wind, geothermal, and biofuels. The United States has a long history with biofuels and the nation is on a course charted to achieve a substantial increase in biofuels.

Renewable Fuel Standard evaluates the economic and environmental consequences of increasing biofuels production as a result of Renewable Fuels Standard, as amended by EISA (RFS2). The report describes biofuels produced in 2010 and those projected to be produced and consumed by 2022, reviews model projections and other estimates of the relative impact on the prices of land, and discusses the potential environmental harm and benefits of biofuels production and the barriers to achieving the RFS2 consumption mandate.


Assessment of Marine and Hydrokinetic Energy Technology: Interim Letter Report (BEES)

Released 07.13.11

Power in ocean waves originate as wind energy that is transferred to the sea surface when wind blows over large areas of the ocean. The resulting wave field consists of a collection of waves at different frequencies traveling in various directions delivering their power to near shore areas, whereas ocean tides are a response to gravitational forces exerted by the Moon and the Sun. The limitless potential of tidal power for human use has traditionally led to proposals that employ various schemes to harness this generated power. Now, as marine and hydrokinetic resources increasingly become a part of energy regulatory, planning, and marketing activities in the United States, assessments are being conducted for future development. In particular, state-based renewable portfolio standards and federal production and investment tax credits, have led to an increased interest in the possible deployment of marine and hydrokinetic (MHK) technologies.

Assessment of Marine and Hydrokinetic Energy Technology: Interim Letter Report provides an evaluation of detailed appraisals for the Department of Energy estimating the amount of extractable energy from U.S. marine and hydrokinetic resources. In order to assess the overall potential for U.S. MHK resources and technologies, this report evaluates the methodologies, technologies, and assumptions associated with the wave and tidal energy resource assessments.

2011_light_duty_vehiclesAssessment of Fuel Economy Technologies for Light-Duty Vehicles (BEES)

Released 06.14.11

Various combinations of commercially available technologies could greatly reduce fuel consumption in passenger cars, sport-utility vehicles, minivans, and other light-duty vehicles without compromising vehicle performance or safety. Assessment of Technologies for Improving Light Duty Vehicle Fuel Economy estimates the potential fuel savings and costs to consumers of available technology combinations for three types of engines: spark-ignition gasoline, compression-ignition diesel, and hybrid.

According to its estimates, adopting the full combination of improved technologies in medium and large cars and pickup trucks with spark-ignition engines could reduce fuel consumption by 29 percent at an additional cost of $2,200 to the consumer. Replacing spark-ignition engines with diesel engines and components would yield fuel savings of about 37 percent at an added cost of approximately $5,900 per vehicle, and replacing spark-ignition engines with hybrid engines and components would reduce fuel consumption by 43 percent at an increase of $6,000 per vehicle.

The book focuses on fuel consumption--the amount of fuel consumed in a given driving distance--because energy savings are directly related to the amount of fuel used. In contrast, fuel economy measures how far a vehicle will travel with a gallon of fuel. Because fuel consumption data indicate money saved on fuel purchases and reductions in carbon dioxide emissions, the book finds that vehicle stickers should provide consumers with fuel consumption data in addition to fuel economy information.


Modeling the Economics of Greenhouse Gas Mitigation: Summary of a Workshop (BEES)

Released 10.08.10

Models are fundamental for estimating the possible costs and effectiveness of different policies for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. There is a wide array of models to perform such analysis, differing in the level of technological detail, treatment of technological progress, spatial and sector details, and representation of the interaction of the energy sector to the overall economy and environment. These differences impact model results, including cost estimates. More fundamentally, these models differ as to how they represent fundamental processes that have a large impact on policy analysis--such as how different models represent technological learning and cost reductions that come through increasing production volumes, or how different models represent baseline conditions.

Reliable estimates of the costs and potential impacts on the United States economy of various emissions reduction and other mitigation strategies are critical to the development of the federal climate change research and development portfolio. At the request of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the National Academies organized a workshop, summarized in this volume, to consider some of these types of modeling issues.


Review of the Research Program of the FreedomCar and Fuel Partnership: Third Report (BEES)

Released 06.30.10

The public-private partnership to develop vehicles that require less petroleum-based fuel and emit fewer greenhouse gases should continue to include fuel cells and other hydrogen technologies in its research and development portfolio. The third volume in the FreedomCAR series states that, although the partnership's recent shift of focus toward technologies that could be ready for use in the nearer term--such as advanced combustion engines and plug-in electric vehicles--is warranted, R&D on hydrogen and fuel cells is also needed given the high costs and challenges that many of the technologies must overcome before widespread use.

The FreedomCAR (Cooperative Automotive Research) and Fuel Partnership is a research collaboration among the U.S. Department of Energy, the United States Council for Automotive Research - whose members are the Detroit automakers--five major energy companies, and two electric utility companies. The partnership seeks to advance the technologies essential for components and infrastructure for a full range of affordable, clean, energy efficient cars and light trucks. Until recently, the program primarily focused on developing technologies that would allow U.S. automakers to make production and marketing decisions by 2015 on hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicles. These vehicles have the potential to be much more energy-efficient than conventional gasoline-powered vehicles, produce no harmful tailpipe emissions, and significantly reduce petroleum use. In 2009, the partnership changed direction and stepped up efforts to advance, in the shorter term, technologies for reducing petroleum use in combustion engines, including those using biofuels, as well as batteries that could be used in plug-in hybrid-electric or all electric vehicles.



Assessment of Technologies for Improving Light-Duty Vehicle Fuel Economy

Released 7.1.2010

Various combinations of commercially available technologies could greatly reduce fuel consumption in passenger cars, sport-utility vehicles, minivans, and other light-duty vehicles without compromising vehicle performance or safety. Assessment of Technologies for Improving Light Duty Vehicle Fuel Economy estimates the potential fuel savings and costs to consumers of available technology combinations for three types of engines: spark-ignition gasoline, compression-ignition diesel, and hybrid.


 2010 medium and heavy duty vehicles

Assessment of the Fuel Efficiency Technologies of Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicles

Released 6.15.10

Technologies and Approaches to Reducing the Fuel Consumption of Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicles evaluates various technologies and methods that could improve the fuel economy of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, such as tractor-trailers, transit buses, and work trucks. The book also recommends approaches that federal agencies could use to regulate these vehicles' fuel consumption. Currently there are no fuel consumption standards for such vehicles, which account for about 26 percent of the transportation fuel used in the U.S.  





Transitions to Alternative Transportation Technologies - Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles

Released 12.11.09

The nation has compelling reasons to reduce its consumption of oil and emissions of carbon dioxide. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) promise to contribute to both goals by allowing some miles to be driven on electricity drawn from the grid, with an internal combustion engine that kicks in when the batteries are discharged. However, while battery technology has made great strides in recent years, batteries are still very expensive.


2009_real_prospects_energy_efficiencyReal Prospects for Energy Efficiency in the United States (BEES)

Released 12.09.09

America's economy and lifestyles have been shaped by the low prices and availability of energy. In the last decade, however, the prices of oil, natural gas, and coal have increased dramatically, leaving consumers and the industrial and service sectors looking for ways to reduce energy use. To achieve greater energy efficiency, we need technology, more informed consumers and producers, and investments in more energy-efficient industrial processes, businesses, residences, and transportation.

As part of the America's Energy Future project, Realistic Prospects for Energy Efficiency in the United States examines the potential for reducing energy demand through improving efficiency by using existing technologies, technologies developed but not yet utilized widely, and prospective technologies. The book evaluates technologies based on their estimated times to initial commercial deployment, and provides an analysis of costs, barriers, and research needs. This quantitative characterization of technologies will guide policy makers toward planning the future of energy use in America. This book will also have much to offer to industry leaders, investors, environmentalists, and others looking for a practical diagnosis of energy efficiency possibilities.


 2009_aef_tech_and_transformAmerica’s Energy Future: Technology and Transformation (DEPS, BEES)
Released 07.21.09
Energy touches our lives in countless ways and its costs are felt when we fill up at the gas pump, pay our home heating bills, and keep businesses both large and small running. There are long-term costs as well: to the environment, as natural resources are depleted and pollution contributes to global climate change, and to national security and independence, as many of the world's current energy sources are increasingly concentrated in geopolitically unstable regions. The country's challenge is to develop an energy portfolio that addresses these concerns while still providing sufficient, affordable energy reserves for the nation. The United States has enormous resources to put behind solutions to this energy challenge; the dilemma is to identify which solutions are the right ones. Before deciding which energy technologies to develop, and on what timeline, we need to understand them better. America's Energy Future analyzes the potential of a wide range of technologies for generation, distribution, and conservation of energy. This book considers technologies to increase energy efficiency, coal-fired power generation, nuclear power, renewable energy, oil and natural gas, and alternative transportation fuels. It assesses the associated impacts and projected costs of implementing each technology and categorizes them into three time frames for implementation.
 no_cover_imageLetter Report on the Review of the Research Program of the FreedomCar and Fuel Partnership, Phase 3 (BEES)
Released 07.16.09
This letter report broadly reviews the strategy and structure of the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership, as requested by the U.S. Department of Energy. Although the Obama Administration's focus on nearer-term technologies is on the right track, there remains a need for continued investment in longer-term, higher-risk, higher-payoff vehicle technologies that could be highly transformational with regard to reduced use of petroleum and reduced emissions. Such technologies include advanced batteries, technologies for hydrogen storage, and hydrogen/fuel cells. For researchers, contractors, and investors to be willing to make long-term commitments to these and other potentially important developing technologies, a consistent year-to-year level of support must be provided. Other recommendations within this report include incorporating a broader-scope approach to better consider total emissions and the full environmental impact of using various fuels and technologies; providing temporary reductions in cost-share requirements to ease the burden on prospective researchers; and providing direct funding to struggling automotive companies to help keep important in-house research programs active. Further suggestions are included within the body of the report.
 2009_electricity_renewable_resourcesElectricity from Renewable Resources: Status, Prospects, and Impediments (DEPS, BEES)
A component in the America's Energy Future study, Electricity from Renewable Resources examines the technical potential for electric power generation with alternative sources such as wind, solar-photovoltaic, geothermal, solar-thermal, hydroelectric, and other renewable sources. The book focuses on those renewable sources that show the most promise for initial commercial deployment within 10 years and will lead to a substantial impact on the U.S. energy system. A quantitative characterization of technologies, this book lays out expectations of costs, performance, and impacts, as well as barriers and research and development needs. In addition to a principal focus on renewable energy technologies for power generation, the book addresses the challenges of incorporating such technologies into the power grid, as well as potential improvements in the national electricity grid that could enable better and more extensive utilization of wind, solar-thermal, solar photovoltaics, and other renewable technologies.
Released 05.27.09
Currently, the Department of Energy (DOE) sets appliance efficiency standards using primarily "site" (or point-of-use) measurements, which reflect only the energy consumed to operate the appliance. Site measurements allow consumers to compare energy efficiency among appliances, but offer no information about other energy costs involved. This congressionally mandated report from the National Research Council recommends that DOE consider moving over time to the use of a full-fuel-cycle measure of energy consumption for assessment of national and environmental impacts. Using that metric would provide the public with more comprehensive information about the impacts of energy consumption on the environment, the economy, and other national concerns. This volume discusses these matters and offers several related findings and recommendations together with supporting information.
Released 05.20.09
The transportation sector cannot continue on its current path: The volatility of oil prices threatens the U.S. economy, the large proportion of oil importation threatens U.S. energy security, and the massive contribution of greenhouse gases threatens the environment. The development of domestic sources of alternative transportation fuels with lower greenhouse emissions is now a national imperative. Coal and biomass are in abundant supply in the United States and can be converted to liquid fuels that can be combusted in existing and future vehicles. Their abundant supply makes them attractive candidates to provide non-oil-based liquid fuels to the U.S. transportation system. However, there are important questions about the economic viability, carbon impact, and technology status of these options. Liquid Transportation Fuels from Coal and Biomass provides a snapshot of the potential costs of liquid fuels from biomass by biochemical conversion and from biomass and coal by thermochemical conversion. Policy makers, investors, leaders in industry, the transportation sector, and others with a concern for the environment, economy, and energy security will look to this book as a roadmap to independence from foreign oil. With immediate action and sustained effort, alternative liquid fuels can be available in the 2020 time frame, if or when the nation needs them.
 Review of the 21st Century Truck Partnership

The 21st Century Truck Partnership (21CTP), a cooperative research and development partnership formed by four federal agencies with 15 industrial partners, was launched in the year 2000 with high hopes that it would dramatically advance the technologies used in trucks and buses, yielding a cleaner, safer, more efficient generation of vehicles.  Review of the 21st Century Truck Partnership critically examines and comments on the overall adequacy and balance of the 21CTP. The book reviews how well the program has accomplished its goals, evaluates progress in the program, and makes recommendations to improve the likelihood of the Partnership meeting its goals.



Review of the DOE Nuclear Energy R&D Program

Growing energy demands, emerging concerns about the emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel combustion, the increasing and volatile price for natural gas, and a sustained period of successful operation of the existing fleet of nuclear power plants have resulted in a renewal of interest in nuclear power in the United States. The Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) in the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is the main agent of the government’s responsibility for advancing nuclear power. One consequence of the renewed interest in nuclear power for the NE mission has been rapid growth in the NE research budget: it grew by nearly 70 percent from the $193 million appropriated in FY 2003 to $320 million in FY 2006. 



Alternatives for the Indian Point Energy Center in Meeting New York Electric Power Needs

Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, many in the New York City area have become concerned about the possible consequences of a similar attack on the Indian Point nuclear power plants—located about 40 miles from Manhattan, and have made calls for their closure. Any closure, however, would require actions to replace the 2000 MW of power supplied by the plants. To examine this issue in detail, the Congress directed DOE to request a study from the NRC of options for replacing the power. This report presents detailed review of both demand and supply options for replacing that power as well as meeting expected demand growth in the region. It also assesses institutional considerations for these options along with their expected impacts. Finally, the report provides an analysis of scenarios for implementing the replacement options using simulation modeling.


 Letter Report on Methodology for Estimating the Benefits of Applied Energy R&D

The National Research Council (NRC) established the Committee on Prospective Benefits of DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Fossil Energy R&D Programs, Phase Two to continue to develop methodology for estimating the economic, environmental, and energy security benefits associated with DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Fossil Energy R&D Programs and to apply its proposed methodology to several DOE programs. To obtain feedback on its proposed methodology and its then-pending selection of DOE programs for further case study, the committee held a workshop on July 14, 2005, in Washington, D.C., attended by stakeholders. In this letter, the committee discusses the principal comments made during the workshop, the case studies it intends to perform in phase two, and the changes to the process and methodology that have occurred since phase one.



Review of the Research Program of the FreedomCar and Fuel Partnership: First Report

The FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership is a collaborative effort among the Department of Energy (DOE), the U.S. Council for Automotive Research (USCAR), and five major energy companies to manage research that will enable the vision of “a clean and sustainable transportation energy future.” It envisions a transition from more efficient internal combustion engines (ICEs), to advanced ICE hybrid electric vehicles, to enabling a private-sector decision by 2015 on hydrogen-fueled vehicle development. This report, which builds on an earlier NRC report, The Hydrogen Economy: Opportunities, Costs, Barriers, and R&D Needs, presents an evaluation of the Partnership’s research efforts on hydrogen-fueled transportation systems, and provides findings and recommendations about technical directions, strategies, funding, and management.


 Prospective Evaluation of Applied Energy Research and Development at DOE (Phase one): A First Look Forward

In 2001, the National Research Council (NRC) completed a congressionally mandated assessment of the benefits and costs of DOE’s fossil energy and energy efficiency R&D programs, Energy Research at DOE: Was It Worth It? The Congress followed this retrospective study by directing DOE to request the NRC to develop a methodology for assessing prospective benefits. The first phase of this project—development of the methodology—began in December 2003. Phase two will make the methodology more robust and explore related issues, and subsequent phases will apply the methodology to review the prospective benefits of different DOE fossil energy and energy efficiency R&D programs. In developing this project, three considerations were particularly important. First, the study should adapt the work of the retrospective study. Second, the project should develop a methodology that provides a rigorous calculation of benefits and risks, and a practical and consistent process for its application. Third, the methodology should be transparent, should not require extensive resources for implementation, and should produce easily understood results. This report presents the results of phase one. It focuses on adaptation of the retrospective methodology to a prospective context.



The Hydrogen Economy: Opportunities, Costs, Barriers, and R&D Needs

The announcement of a hydrogen fuel initiative in the President’s 2003 State of the Union speech substantially increased interest in the potential for hydrogen to play a major role in the nation’s long-term energy future. Prior to that event, DOE asked the National Research Council to examine key technical issues about the hydrogen economy to assist in the development of its hydrogen R&D program. Included in the assessment were the current state of technology; future cost estimates; CO2 emissions; distribution, storage, and end use considerations; and the DOE RD&D program. The report provides an assessment of hydrogen as a fuel in the nation’s future energy economy and describes a number of important challenges that must be overcome if it is to make a major energy contribution. Topics covered include the hydrogen end-use technologies, transportation, hydrogen production technologies, and transition issues for hydrogen in vehicles.



Letter Report: Lessons Learned from Workshop on Novel Approaches to Carbon Management

One approach to the problem of carbon dioxide buildup in the Earth’s atmosphere is to develop novel ways to sequester CO2 before it enters the atmosphere or to accelerate its removal once it has. In order to determine whether this approach was feasible and practical, DOE asked the NRC help foster the identification of such novel concepts. A three-step project was launched to meet that request: a workshop on novel approaches; an evaluation of proposals in response to a DOE solicitation for developing such concepts; and an assessment of the process including lessons learned. The NRC delivered reports on the first two steps in April and September 2003, and this letter report presents the results of the last step of the project. The report presents an assessment of the workshop, the solicitation process, and the NRC role. In addition, recommendations are provided for improving the process for subsequent DOE carbon management initiatives.



Methodology for Estimating Prospective Benefits of Energy Efficiency and Fossil Energy R&D-Letter Report

Since its inception in 1977, the Department of Energy has invested substantial sums in energy efficiency and fossil energy R&D. To monitor its effectiveness, the agency and Congress have, over the years, pursued evaluation of these R&D programs that focuses on its cost and benefits. Such evaluation, however, is difficult and must incorporate the full range of public benefits as well as what might happen if that R&D had not been funded by the federal government. To help address these challenges, and at the direction of Congress, DOE asked the NRC to develop a methodology for evaluating the prospective benefits of its fossil energy and energy efficiency R&D programs. Such methodology can be used to evaluate program management and funding decisions on an ongoing basis. This letter report provides an overview of the studies approach and how it differs from retrospective studies of this R&D previously carried out by the NRC.





Alternatives and Strategies for Future Hydrogen Production and Use: Letter Report

Hydrogen is a flexible energy carrier that can be produced from a variety of resources. If an economic hydrogen energy system could be developed, it would present a number of environmental and security advantages to the nation. To assist the Department of Energy plan for and carry out its hydrogen R&D program, the NRC was asked to evaluate the cost and status of hydrogen energy carrier technologies and to review the DOE hydrogen R&D and deployment strategy. This letter report is an interim report to DOE that provides early review and recommendations to assist FY2005 research planning.




Novel Approaches to Carbon Management: Separation, Capture, Sequestration, and Conversion to Useful Products

The growing concern about possible consequences for the earth’s climate of the atmospheric buildup of carbon dioxide (CO2), has led to increasing attention on ways to manage CO2 emissions. DOE is in the process of awarding grants for carbon management research, and asked the NRC for help in this effort. As a first step, the NRC held a workshop to identify promising lines of research. This report is a summary of that workshop. The report presents a discussion of research areas in advanced sequestration technologies, advanced subsurface technologies, advanced geochemical methods, and novel approaches for converting CO2 to useful products.



Review of Research Proposals on Carbon Management

DOE is in the process of awarding grants for carbon management research, and asked the NRC for help in this effort. As a first step, the NRC published a report, Novel Approaches to Carbon Management: Separation, Capture, Sequestration, and Conversion to Useful Products, based on a workshop held to identify promising lines of research. As a follow-up to that report, DOE asked the NRC to provide ratings and summary technical assessment of proposals received by the DOE Office of Fossil Energy on novel approaches to carbon management. This letter report presents a discussion of the proposal review process followed by the NRC committee along with the ratings and summary assessments.


 Review of DOE’s Vision 21 Research and Development Program—Phase I

The goal of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Vision 21 program is to develop an array of advanced technologies that could be incorporated into future Vision 21 plants for converting fossil fuel into electricity, process heat, fuels and/or chemicals with high efficiency and very low emissions including of carbon dioxide. The program’s goals are extremely challenging and ambitious, and success would essentially eliminate many of the environmental concerns currently associated with the use of fossil fuels. In 2000, the National Research Council (NRC) published a report that reviewed the program in its initial stages. Two years later, the DOE Deputy Assistant Secretary for Coal and Power Systems requested the NRC to review the progress of the Vision 21 program. The current report identifies significant progress that has been made in the program since the last NRC review, and makes recommendations for enhancement of the program.


 The Disposition Dilemma: Controlling the Release of Solid Materials from Nuclear Regulatory Commission-Licensed Facilities

Establishing a new policy to control the release of solid material from civilian nuclear facilities has been problematic for almost three decades. Under the current system, such materials may be released from the control of a licensed nuclear facility—a power reactor, research facility, hospital, etc.—if the radionuclide concentrations can be shown to be very small. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (USNRC) has tried several times to improve the current policy under which slightly radioactive solid material is released from the control of licensed facilities. To assist in this effort, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission asked the National Research Council to recommend changes to the decision-making process for disposition of slightly radioactive solid material, and determine whether the technical studies of the health impacts were sufficient to support the Commission’s future decisions. This report presents the results of that study. It describes the fate of materials released from a facility, problems with the current release system, and recommendations about how to create a new policy.




Effectiveness and Impact of Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) Standards (with TRB)

Since CAFE standards were established 25 years ago, there have been significant changes in motor vehicle technology, globalization of the industry, the mix and characteristics of vehicle sales, production capacity, and other factors. This volume evaluates the implications of these changes as well as changes anticipated in the next few years, on the need for CAFE, as well as the stringency and/or structure of the CAFE program in future years.


Energy Research at DOE: Was It Worth It?

The Congress initiated a study with the Academy to review DOE’s R&D in energy efficiency and fossil energy technologies that was conducted from 1978 to 2000. Estimates of the economic, environmental, and energy security benefits for many different energy efficiency and fossil energy programs were made. The committee was able to select a manageable number of case studies—22—that covered almost all of the research expenditures in the DOE fossil energy program since 1978. In contrast, the energy efficiency program, especially in the buildings and industry programs, is composed of a large number of relatively small projects. The committee determined that it was not possible to analyze enough cases to capture a large fraction of DOE’s research expenditures in these areas. Therefore, the committee selected 17 case studies that, in its expert opinion, were sufficiently representative to permit the testing of the analytical framework and to draw reliable conclusions about the success or failure of the overall program. A methodology and framework for evaluation was developed for giving the Congress and the Office of Management and Budget more confidence in DOE estimates of the benefits of their R&D programs.




Review of the Research Program of the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV), Seven Reports, 1994-2001 (with TRB)

The PNGV program was a U.S. government-Big 3industry partnership started under President Clinton in 1993 with the aim of developing a midsize concept vehicle by 2000 and a pre-production prototype with up to 3 times the fuel economy of a 1993 vehicle at comparable cost. The Academy had a committee that conducted 7 annual reviews of this major program, giving recommendations to guide it and improve its chances of success. The 3 auto companies unveiled concept vehicles in 2000, but the program was changed as President Bush took office, eventually resulting in the FreedomCAR Program, which is now operating.



Renewable Power Pathways: A Review of the U.S. Department of Energy's Renewable Energy Programs

This report reviews the Department of Energy’s Office of Power Technologies (OPT) and its research and development programs, which seek to improve the cost and performance of renewable energy technologies. The report reviewed the individual technology development programs in OPT, as well as the office as a whole. The programs reviewed included photovoltaics, wind, geothermal power, solar thermal, hydroelectric power, energy storage, hydrogen technologies, electric transmission (including superconductivity), and distributed power generation technologies. The study recommends OPT develop a robust rationale for its portfolio of renewable energy technologies and set up a process to evaluate and prioritize decisions with the goal of developing a sustainable, cost-effective energy supply system; work with industry to develop a road mapping process for its R&D though the deployment phase that will see industry taking the lead on commercialization activities; and work with states more closely, especially in developing a market for “green power” and distributed energy resource system needs. The report also contains many recommendations on each of the individual technology programs.



Review of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Heavy Vehicle Technologies Program

This report is the result of a broad, independent review of the R&D activities of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Heavy Vehicle Technologies. Many of the activities in the program are focused on the development of technologies that will enable trucks and other heavy vehicles to be more energy efficient and capable of using alternative fuels while at the same time reducing emissions. This is an important mission since fuel consumption by trucks will outweigh that of automobiles in the coming years. The study addressed such areas as planning horizons and priorities; emission control technologies; engine efficiencies; other factors involved in fuel economy performance; and alternatives to diesel engines. The study recommended that OHVT should modify its program goals to reflect a longer time horizon of eight years or more; implement a Go/No Go decision-making framework to keep OHVT programs focused on program goals and to establish or modify priorities and change directions, as necessary; and place a high priority on integrated emissions-control technologies (engine combustion and after-treatment technologies) to meet future emission requirements.



Review of the Research and Development Plan for the Office of Advanced Automotive Technologies

The Office of Advanced Automotive Technologies within the U.S. Department of Energy was established in 1996 to consolidate DOE’s programs in automotive technology R&D into an integrated program for light vehicles. One of the office’s first activities was to develop an R&D plan. The NRC was asked to conduct an independent review of this R&D plan and document its findings and recommendations in a report. The report will address and comment on such issues as (1) the plan’s goals, objectives, assumptions, priorities and description of the potential benefits to the nation; (2) the strategy and approaches for addressing and overcoming identified technical barriers in the priority technical areas; (3) the metrics delineated for measuring progress in R&D; (4) the strategy for dealing with future budget uncertainties and allocation of resources among technology areas; and (5) the strategy for implementing and managing the plan in light of anticipated budgets. It will make recommendations for improvements to the plan.



Review of the United States Advanced Battery Consortium’s R&D Project Selection Process for Electric Vehicle Battery Technologies

In 1991, the United States Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC) was formed by Chrysler Corporation, Ford Motor Co., and General Motors Corporation to establish a manufacturing capability for advanced batteries in the United States that could improve the range and performance of electric vehicles (EVs) in the latter part of the 1990s. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) signed a cooperative agreement with USABC to provide 50 percent of the funds in the program. In 1995, DOE asked the NRC to conduct a retrospective examination and evaluate the decision processes and outcomes (in relation to established program objectives) that the USABC Phase I program (from 1991 to 1996) used for selecting projects for EV battery technology R&D funded in part by the DOE. Based on this retrospective examination, the NRC was also asked to comment on plans for decision processes for selecting projects during Phase II (1997 to 2000).

Given the technical goals and objectives for Phase I, the report will address such aspects as (a) the process by which technical goals and objectives were established for EV battery development; (2) the process used by USABC to solicit proposals, choose contractors, and make awards, both for new projects and for continuing efforts; (3) the manner in which contractor performance was measured and evaluated by USABC; (4) how R&D results have measured up against the technical goals and objectives; and (5) USABC plans for Phase II.