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Deputy director, Sustainable Transportation Program, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Claus Daniel sees great potential in electric vehicles.”I’m excited about electric vehicles because I think they can be a game changer,” says Daniel, deputy director of the Sustainable Transportation Program at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

For starters, they’re a step toward energy independence.

“Currently, all transportation depends on petroleum and all we think about is gas prices when we run our vehicles,” he says. “When you have an electric vehicle, you free yourself from one source of fuel and the supply of fuel can be diversified.”

He also sees them as a gateway to reinventing vehicles.

“With the whole way information technology and communication is going … we can think about self-driving vehicles and vehicles that communicate with each other,” he says. “At some point, vehicles will never crash anymore and that’s getting really exciting because then you can really tackle efficiency of vehicles.”

Researchers are working on some of these technologies within the Sustainable Transportation Program. Daniel’s own research focuses on developing affordable and longer lasting batteries for electric vehicles.

“There will be competition for resources in the future and the better positioned we are, the better off we are as a society and people,” he says.

Daniel also helped establish the country’s largest open-access Battery Manufacturing Research and Development Facility.

“While we are looking for electric vehicles to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, we risk coming into dependence on foreign batteries,” he says. “I’m looking to develop a domestic market, a domestic supply chain, so we can bring those jobs back to this country and get people employed.”
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