U.S. Department of Energy Announces $9 Million to Projects Modeling Optimal Deployment for Low-Carbon Intermodal Freight Transportation System

Six Projects Exploring Infrastructure and Logistics for Moving Goods Across Maritime, Rail, & Road Transportation

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced $9 million in funding to six projects developing technology to model the low-carbon intermodal freight transportation system of the future. The selected projects seek to minimize emissions and maximize resiliency in support of President Biden’s ambitious clean energy and decarbonization goals.

“In order to reach net-zero, we need careful planning and coordination to minimize costs and speed up deployment timelines,” said ARPA-E Director Evelyn N. Wang. “The teams announced today are committed to decarbonizing intermodal freight, and I look forward to seeing the tools and frameworks these projects develop.”

The following six teams are set to receive funding through the Advanced Research Project Agency’s (ARPA-E) INcreasing Transportation Efficiency and Resiliency through MODeling Assets and Logistics (INTERMODAL) Exploratory Topic:

  • Michigan Technological University (Houghton, MI) will develop a modeling platform to support long-term planning decisions on transportation mode, route, and charging, as well as make planning more flexible and adaptive by continually updating its logistics decisions to consider real-time traffic conditions and both natural- and human-made disruptions. (Award amount: $1,200,000)
  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory (Golden, CO) will develop an intermodal freight modeling framework for infrastructure planning and logistics operations that would provide insights to decision-makers redesigning the national freight system to meet net-zero targets by 2050. (Award amount: $2,200,000)
  • Oliver Wyman (Princeton, NJ) will develop a publicly available software that would empower shippers, freight carriers, and infrastructure planners to seamlessly integrate intermodal transit route logistics. The proposed software goes further than typical in-house proprietary tools by creating an end-to-end software package that generates optimized shipping options across the interconnected intermodal network. (Award amount: $500,000)
  • Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (Richland, WA) will develop a decision-support tool to evaluate the impact of present and future low-emission fuels on intermodal freight transportation. PNNL’s innovative approach could reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the intermodal transit system by 60% by 2050. (Award amount: $1,500,000)
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Urbana, IL) will develop data and computational models to provide systematic data-driven intermodal freight analysis and critical infrastructure planning that prioritizes decarbonization. (Award amount: $1,500,000)
  • University of Tennessee, Knoxville (Knoxville, TN) will develop a cognitive digital twin for the U.S. intermodal freight transportation system. This digital representation could offer flow planning, scheduling, and optimization of the entire intermodal freight system within 24 hours. Additionally, the proposed technology could adapt quickly to traffic, weather, and other disruptions by supplying local route rescheduling within one hour. (Award amount: $1,900,000)

More information and complete project descriptions for the teams announced today can be found on the ARPA-E website.