Energy and Infrastructure

TSRC does extensive research on the intersection of transportation and other key infrastructure systems. This includes utility electrical grids and intelligent transportation systems (ITS), such as ecodriving, real-time traveler and refueling information, the future of ITS (20 to 40 years) and augmented speed enforcement.


  • This interdisciplinary project titled “An Open-Source, Open-Architecture Software Platform For Plug-In Electric Vehicle Smart Charging In California Residential And Small Commercial Settings” focuses on controlling the charging of plug-in electric vehicles PEVs at residential and small commercial settings using a novel and flexible open-source, open-architecture charge communication and control platform. This software-based platform known as “Open XBOS-V” (Open eXtensible Building Operation System/Vehicles) will be embedded in the context of overall utility and residential/business electrical and building automation systems, lending itself to potential broad implementation by commercial interests. The integrated project will also focus on the key issues associated with the development of the open-source platform including assessment of user needs and grid operation and ratepayer benefits, grid security considerations, and the potential for PEV charge control to lead to increased ability to accept intermittent renewable energy for California’s electrical grid. The platform would be developed to build on previous work for such vehicle-grid solutions such as through such protocols as OpenADR, SEP 2.0, Zigbee, SAE J1772, and ISO 15118. The project brings together a group of researchers from the University of California – Berkeley and BMW North America LLC to also conduct an in-depth study that will gather key information learned from the “i ChargeForward” project by Pacific Gas and Electric Co. and BMW. The project will use key insights and observations from the pilot project to inform the development of the Open XBOS-V platform and associated grid and user benefits analysis. Up to 100 participants are expected in the i ChargeForward program for BMW i3 drivers, starting in Summer 2015.
  • Hydrogen refueling feature
    TSRC, with the support of Toyota, has constructed and commissioned a high-pressure hydrogen refueling station near its office at the Richmond Field Station. The project was conceived with the intent of having a fully operational high-pressure (700 and 350 bar), fast-fill hydrogen refueling station to support fuel-cell vehicle research at TSRC. The station, offering a fueling capacity of about 25 kilograms per day (5-6 vehicle fills), was constructed in late 2010/early 2011 and became operational in May of 2011 as the first 700-bar hydrogen station in Northern California. It has operated for 30 continuous months as of late 2013 with approximately 95-97% station availability.  The station currently supports the TSRC fleet of 8-10 FCVs, along with providing support refueling and testing/research for the California Fuel Cell Partnership and other state agencies. The station is primarily maintained by TSRC staff and along with vehicle fueling is used for student learning and media and policymaker outreach/education opportunities. Along with Toyota, key project partners include the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, Linde LLC, and Powertech Labs.
  • The FHWA has envisioned a future Integrated Active Transportation System (IATS) wherein all elements of all modes of transport are connected to form a single integrated and managed system. The objective is to realize substantial improvements in both safety and mobility by optimizing flow and avoiding congestion and collisions. It is with this in mind that FHWA commissioned the Transportation Sustainability Research Center (TSRC) and Cogenia Partners with a project to explore how the nation’s transportations system will evolve during the 21st century. The project will provide a useful and long-range planning tool that can be used to guide research to support the IATS.
  • The uncertainty of climate policy adoption outside of California has created new challenges for public agencies and private industries seeking to meet the State’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as articulated in California’s Global Warming Solutions Act (Assembly Bill 32). This project will synthesize and evaluate trends in transportation-climate issues for personal transportation and freight to identify emerging opportunities, lessons learned from local and regional initiatives, as well as uncertainties and obstacles. Following this analysis, researchers will identify and develop a road map/framework for near-term transportation and energy measures that transportation agencies might effectively pursue to reduce GHG emissions. Finally, researchers will examine climate change terminology in the context of sustainable transportation to better understand the best framework for marketing mitigation strategies to the public and decision makers including: economic opportunities (e.g., fuel and time savings, investment opportunities and jobs); energy security; and quality of life.  
  • In projects for the California Energy Commission and National Renewable Energy Laboratory, TSRC is assessing the prospects for secondary use of lithium-ion plug-in electric vehicle batteries, focusing on the concept of “re-purposing” the batteries for post-vehicular use in stationary grid-services applications. The projects, which build upon previous work performed during the CEFIS project, identify key opportunities and markets for secondary use of batteries, define protocols for their re-purposing, and interface with technical and utility partners to further define battery energy storage system features and potential synergies with renewable energy. On March 7, 2011, the TSRC Plug-In Electric Vehicle Battery Second Life Workshop took place in Berkeley.   
  • TSRC is working with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Department of Mechanical Engineering on a multi-year study to develop a model of the "total costs of ownership" for proton-exchange membrane and solid oxide fuel cell systems in emerging applications.  The scope of the project includes multiple fuel cell technologies (low and high temperature PEM, solid-oxide fuel cells, several application areas (such as co-generation of power and heating and back-up power) at varying system capacities in kW as well as varying annual manufacturing volumes. The project is a multi-year research study funded by the US Department of Energy Office of Fuel Cell Technologies. Key aspects of the TSRC contributions to the project are: 1) defining functional and design specifications for the various systems; 2) developing fuel cell sub-system relationships and interconnections though development of design schematics; 3) identifying and costing for system "balance of plant" components; and 4) assisting with design for manufacturing and assembly (DFMA) analysis of system component costs by production volume. Poster Presentation at the 2013 Fuel Cell Seminar


  • Transportation is a major contributor of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas emissions from human activity, accounting for approximately 14 percent of total anthropogenic emissions globally and about 27 percent in the U.S. The passage of Assembly Bill (AB) 32, California's Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, represents one of the most ambitious state-level regulatory actions taken in the country to address climate change by reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It requires a reduction of GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) sought to develop a plan to achieve the emission targets set forth by this law. In response to this, TSRC - in conjunction with the Institute of Transportation Studies-Davis and the University of California Transportation Center (UCTC) - explored a range of policy approaches (e.g., cap and trade, budgets, and feebates) and mechanisms for reducing GHG emissions (e.g., smart growth and ITS) for implementing AB 32. This project sought to: 1) develop a deeper understanding of the impact of AB 32 on the transportation sector through a literature review and expert interviews and 2) commence a discussion among key transportation stakeholders regarding the implementation of the AB 32 regulations through the development of a series of white papers and stakeholder workshops (Northern and Southern California, co-sponsored with CARB and the California Energy Commission (CEC) in 2008). These workshops targeted high-level stakeholders including: the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), CARB, CEC, city and county representatives, Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), Air Quality Management Districts (AQMDs), transit operators, academics, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Results of this initiative help to inform CARB to develop a plan for implementing the AB 32 regulations.
  • ASE programs have faced some public criticism and therefore are not operated in many states across the country. Currently, ASE programs are operated in only 11 states and Washington D.C., and most of these are located on residential streets and not highways. ASE programs can sometimes fold under the weight of legal, institutional, and political pressures. TSRC’s research explored the potential benefits and barriers to implementing ASE programs in the U.S. Through a literature review and interviews with stakeholders, citizens, and government officials, TSRC provided background on the implementation of ASE programs. The analysis addressed the potential safety and financial effects and any legal restrictions to implementation. TSRC also evaluated key program design choices, addressing such issues as owner versus driver liability, manned versus unmanned systems, mobile versus fixed systems, visibility, location, enforcement thresholds, program management, and revenue distribution.
  • Alternative fuel vehicles include any dedicated, flexible-fuel, or dual-fuel vehicle designed to operate on at least one alternative fuel, such as hydrogen. TSRC worked on a project with the California Department of Transportation to gauge users’ experiences driving a prototype hydrogen fuel cell vehicle (the "F-Cell" created by DaimlerChrysler), and to explore the possibility of using intelligent transportation systems to increase access to the currently limited hydrogen highway infrastructure.
  • In addition to providing information about road conditions, CMS in California have been used to support campaigns that encourage safer driving. Messages such as “Click it or Ticket,” “Don’t Speed, Save Lives,” and "Report Drunk Drivers, Call 911,” are displayed on CMS during designated time periods that coincide with broader safety campaigns. TSRC researchers investigated the effectiveness and consequences of using highway CMS to promote safety campaigns. The study used a variety of research methods to gain a stronger understanding of the impacts of displaying the safety messages on the CMS, including: 1) a literature review on the effects of CMS usage on traffic flow and the effects of messages that are not directed at an immediate traffic situation; 2) interviews with experts and stakeholders to gain a stronger understanding of current concerns, benefits, and expectations regarding the use of CMS for safety message campaigns; 3) focus groups and in-person surveys for those downstream from CMS displaying safety messages and a state-wide telephone survey to determine public perceptions regarding CMS and safety messages; and 4) analysis of data including traffic speeds and highway incidents that might be impacted by CMS displaying safety messages.
  • In collaboration with the UC Davis Hydrogen Pathways Program, TSRC examined technical and economic aspects of "hydrogen energy stations" that would co-produce electricity for local building loads and/or utility grids and hydrogen for hydrogen-powered vehicles. The results of the analysis were informing efforts to develop future hydrogen stations for California's "Hydrogen Highway Network Initiative."
  • Many challenges to ITS deployment remain. These include the evolving roles and responsibilities among jurisdictions in ITS policy development and operations, competing priorities for scarce resources, little private investments, limited ITS expertise among transportation agencies, a lack of understanding of ITS benefits, and poor visibility of ITS projects. To respond to these issues, this multi-year project was developed to test a new approach for accelerating the deployment of ITS technologies, products, and services along major California corridors. The ICI demonstrated a unique public-private partnership between state and regional government agencies and the private sector. The Initiative brought together these groups in an effort to: 1) examine a new model for public private partnerships; 2) gain access to better real-time information that could enhance safety and transportation management; 3) deploy projects which demonstrate services that make travel easier and safer, and allow the public to make more informed decisions about their travel plans; and 4) accelerate the deployment of ITS technologies throughout California.
  • California Partners for Advanced Transit and Highways (PATH) evaluated a pilot project of Wi-Fi access at roadside rest stops operated by Caltrans located at the Phillip S. Raine and Enoch Christoffersen rest stops along State Route 99. The new Wi-Fi system gave users access to information regarding historical sites, traffic and safety information, and tourist information. California PATH evaluated the pilot project through interviews with other states that have implemented similar Wi-Fi programs, focus groups, surveys, and analysis of user data. The research goals were to learn about the benefits and challenges of providing Wi-Fi access at roadside rest stops, to provide Caltrans with an understanding of user needs and perceptions, and to assist Caltrans in developing a model for a statewide deployment of Wi-Fi at roadside rest stops.




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