General Motors R&D received a $2.7 million federal award on Monday that will help build a prototype using Shape Memory Alloy, or SMA, that would generate electricity from the heat in automotive exhaust.
The grant from the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Program Agency – Energy, or ARPA-E, was the onlyone to an automaker among $151 million in taxpayer funds distributed by the DOE.
The idea of an SMA heat engine has existed for decades, but the few devices built were too inefficient to make them worthwhile. Even now, GM admits the technology is in early stages and is “high risk.” During the next two years, GM and its partners will try to create a working prototype.
GM will collaborate with HRL Laboratories; Dynalloy, Inc., a manufacturer of shape memory alloys specially made to be used as actuators; and the Smart Materials Collaborative Research Lab at the University of Michigan.
The amount given to GM for SMA work is minuscule compared to the first three auto loans totaling $8 billion for developing advanced technology that were granted to the Ford Motor Company, Nissan Motors and Tesla Motors back in June by DOE as part of its Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program.
The loans, dubbed 136 for the section of the Energy Independence act that authorized it, have $25 billion in U.S. taxpayer funding.