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Transportation Systems

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is accelerating the pace of research and development (R&D) for efficient, safe, secure, and environmentally friendly transportation. By leveraging the National Transportation Research Center (NTRC) – the Department of Energy's (DOE's) only dedicated user facility focused on transportation – our researchers identify new materials for next-generation systems; provide decision-making tools and intelligent technologies for secure, efficient movement of passengers and freight; and create economic opportunity for the nation by improving the energy efficiency of light-, medium-, and heavy-duty vehicles.

Next Generation Research

Electrification and fast wired and wireless charging

Early-stage technologies to speed deployment of electric vehicles, including extreme fast charging; advanced batteries, fuel cells, electric machinery, and power electronics; and roll-to-roll technologies.

Data science, automated technologies, and vehicle cybersecurity

Unique security expertise to detect and prevent cyberintrusions; advanced sensors, controls, algorithms, and other technologies to safely and efficiently guide automated and connected vehicles; and analysis of transportation fuel economy and fleets.

Materials for future vehicles

Durable, cost-effective, lightweight materials and advanced processes for next-generation vehicles, including high-temperature alloys for engines, advancements in carbon fiber, 3D printing, and advanced materials joining techniques.

Fuels, engines, and emissions research

Co-optimization of advanced fuels and engines, low-temperature catalysts, and emissions controls; breakthroughs in biofuels production; and integration of vehicle systems.

DOE's Most Comprehensive Transportation R&D Facilities

National Transportation Research Facility

DOE's only designated user facility focused on transportation R&D and a portal to world-class science capabilities across ORNL.




Carbon Fiber Technology Facility

CFTF is developing methods using low-cost feedstocks to assist industry in overcoming the barriers of carbon fiber production cost, scalability of processes, and development of fiber-reinforced polymer composites for end use.



Impacts and Partnerships

  • Using neutrons at ORNL's High Flux Isotope Reactor and Spallation Neutron Source to analyze the spray inside fuel injectors; seeking the sources of efficiency-robbing cavitation. Partner: General Motors.
  • Using Titan, the nation's fastest supercomputer, to study combustion by simulating thousands of engine cycles with speed and accuracy. Partners: Ford Motor Company, General Electric, and Convergent Science.
  • Applying characterization, modeling, and simulation capabilities to accelerate the design of a new traction power inverter for the 2016 Chevy Volt. Partner: Delphi.
  • Developing new high-temperature aluminum alloys for automotive cylinder heads using materials characterization expertise and high-performance computing. Partners: FCA US LLC, Nemak.
  • Using analytical chemistry and materials science to develop new catalyst technologies that operate effectively in the low-temperature exhaust from next-generation engines.