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ORAU’s PeerNet™ Provides DOE Program with a Progress Report Card

Testing of a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle—like this 2004 Toyota Prius—is done with an emulated battery power source. Photo courtesy of Argonne National Laboratory.

The U.S Department of Energy’s (DOE) Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Vehicle Technologies Program seeks to develop more energy efficient and environmentally friendly highway transportation technologies that enable America to use less petroleum. In the long term, the multi-year program hopes to reduce U.S. oil dependence by 11 billion barrels of oil by 2040.

The program’s ambitious goal requires a system of checks-and-balances to ensure that the research conducted under the umbrella of the Vehicle Technologies Program is verified to be scientifically feasible.

DOE’s Office of Vehicle Technologies contracted Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) to coordinate an independent review of the program’s research portfolio. ORAU was able to produce a cross-cutting view of all ongoing research currently funded by the Office of Vehicle Technologies.

The information proved useful for DOE management, congressional stakeholders, researchers and industry observers to objectively provide a ‘report card’ on the progress of on-going program research.

The review comprised of more than 15 panels spanning nearly a week with participation by more than 90 objective reviewers. The reviewers listened to oral presentations on over 250 projects within the Vehicle Technologies Program and entered commentary and numeric ratings within the PeerNet™ application. Taking into consideration all observers and presenters, the entire peer review consisted of nearly 500 participants.

Although DOE’s Office of Vehicle Technologies has regularly conducted research reviews in the past, a concurrent panel review had never been done before. The change in procedure, coupled with ORAU’s scientific peer review expertise, allowed participants the opportunity to collaborate and identify compatible research areas that were not already linked together.