Detailed Justification for Alternative Fuels R and D

Detailed Justification for Alternative Fuels R and D

What Do I Need to Know Before Reading This Justification?

  • The program continues to cover its expanded focus of addressing transportation issues for all alternative fuels, not just hydrogen, in the scope of its research and education topics.
  • The program continues to convene USDOT program managers, researchers and external stakeholders to develop intermodal/multimodal projects, the results of which are shared broadly and support USDOT strategic goals, particularly environmental sustainability. The program also facilitates cooperation across the Administration on biofuels and with the Administration's interdepartmental Biomass Research and Development (R&D) Board.
  • The program produces collaborative education products including distance learning tools to train emergency responders about the hazards of in-transit hydrogen incidents; distance and on-site learning for commercial motor vehicle safety inspectors. Pipeline innovations developed under the program can reduce or eliminate embrittlement of the infrastructure. The steel innovations developed under this program have the potential to improve the integrity of steel bridges and reduce the time required for construction, further leveraging the benefits of these research investments.

What Is the Request and What Will We Get for The Funds?

FY2012 Alternative Fuels R&D
Budget Request

Program Activity FY 2010 Actual FY 2012 Request Change FY 2010-2012
Alternative Fuels R&D 500 500 0
Total $500 $500 0

The request continues the base program at prior levels and continues its mandate to include all alternative fuels.

Key Actions: Activities described below are consistent with RITA's mission to coordinate cross-modal research. Funding supports stakeholder needs in alternative fuels and the USDOT's environmental sustainability strategic goal:

  • Funding will support refinements and improvements to Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) emergency response training tools and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) commercial vehicle safety training and education products that are adaptable for all fuels.
  • Funding will support the DOT Alternative Fuels Working Group, including PHMSA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), FMCSA and other U.S. DOT modal administrations, to conduct advanced research.
  • Funding will support a competition to identify alternative fuels projects that improve the transportation system's ability to support this emerging industry and promote energy independence.
  • Funding will continue to support collaboration with other federal agencies and external partners, to heighten awareness and leverage resources in conducting research on alternative fuels.
  • Funding will support the adaptation and/or application to transportation of long-term enabling research performed by other Federal agencies, including the Departments of Energy and Agriculture, the National Science Foundation, and the Biomass R&D Board.
  • Based on the principles of peer review and under the auspices of the multimodal RD&T Planning Council, a panel of USDOT program managers, researchers, and other experts will competitively allocate funds to intermodal and multimodal alternative fuel projects that advance development of codes and standards, emergency response and safety training as well as exploring technologies to eliminate pipeline embrittlement and improve pipeline-welding techniques.

Key Outputs: Multi-modal focused alternative fuels research and education products examining safety, logistical and distribution issues of alternative fuels approaching market level production. Standards, first responder training and safety handling products will assist in developing a responsive transportation system for these new fuels.

Key Outcomes: Safe and efficient transportation system components that accommodate alternative fuels through multi-modal absorption of the increased shipping/transport requirements of new fuels and feedstocks. Improved integration of Administration biofuel investments, especially with the Departments of Energy and Agriculture, the National Science Foundation, and the Administration's Biomass R&D Board.

What is This Program?

Strategic Goals: Environmental Sustainability.

Purpose/Beneficiaries: This program convenes the U.S. DOT alternative fuels program managers and researchers to select projects that leverage and improve the current state of knowledge.


Description: Funding allows the modal administrations to bring together partners within the USDOT, from other federal agencies and external stakeholders to pursue activities with broad appeal and need. The program's competitive review process will allow the program to support initiatives that best support the collective transportation missions and objectives.

Prior Year Accomplishments:

  • PHMSA emergency response training and FMCSA commercial vehicle safety training created a distance learning framework adaptable for all alternative fuels.
  • PHMSA research developed pipeline standards for safe shipment of hydrogen by pipeline and will inform biofuels standards development.
  • Projects delivered outputs that leveraged DOT research and education aimed at further development and deployment of alternative fuels.

Why Is This Program Necessary?

The Alternative Fuels program funds research and education aimed at reducing our reliance on petroleum as the primary transportation energy source.  Alternative fuels research supports the establishment of safety standards for the use and conveyance of alternative fuels that are currently under development. 

The program encourages and supports cooperation and leverages investments across the federal government to maximize the benefits of alternative fuels on our nation's transportation system Alternative fuel program managers and researchers cooperate across the USDOT and with stakeholders on topics such as the development of codes and standards and emergency response training. The program also supports the USDOT environmental sustainability strategic goal, and aims to expand the safe and efficient deployment of alternative fuels.

Without this funding, RITA's ability to support the deployment of alternative fuels and the opportunity for the public to choose between energy sources would be lost.

How Do You Know the Program Works?

Effective: The USDOT modal administrations and their stakeholders continue to develop proposals for consideration by the Alternative Fuels Working Group. The resulting research and education products continue to be well received and widely disseminated. In addition to information sharing and development of best practices, the results of this research will be measured in:

  • Technological advances evidenced through patents and technology demonstrations.
  • Increased scientific knowledge measured by numbers of publications and citations.
  • Promulgation of training materials, rules, regulations and standards based on research results.

Research: Research to advance safe and efficient shipment of alternative fuels in a multi-modal system is needed to transport newly developing fuels from source to user. Current systems are structured for the chemical composition of petrochemical fuels, which present different corrosive, safety and flammability properties from alternative fuels and from feedstock used to create them. Standards, regulations, handling and training information is needed from research results.

Efficient: RITA's Office of RD&T plays a coordinating role, leveraging limited funds to pursue research that has multimodal relevance, particularly in the identification of safety issues that cross transportation modes, appropriate responses, corrosive properties and materials impacts.

Why Do We Want/Need To Fund The Program At The Requested Level?

Funding Options: The funding request is the minimum level needed to facilitate cooperation and leverage investment across the USDOT to address the impacts of alternative fuels on the transportation systems and to advance their safe and efficient deployment.

History/Outyear Needs: Funding has been consistent at $.500M since inception of the program. FY 2012 funds are requested at the same level with broadened research focus to include transportation issues for multiple alternative fuels.