NUTC Awarded $2.2 million INTERMODAL Grant


The Northwestern University Transportation Center (NUTC) was competitively selected for a $2.2 million INTERMODAL grant by the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) of the U.S. Department of Energy. Led by Hani Mahmassani and Pablo Durango-Cohen, in collaboration with Craig Philip (Vanderbilt University), the project aims to reimagine the nation's multi-modal freight transportation system with the objective to improve its performance in terms of economic and service measures, and importantly, to reduce its environmental impact by enabling a transition to new energy technologies.

“We are excited for the opportunity to build on our previous ARPA-E effort that led to the development of the NUFRIEND (Northwestern University Freight Rail Infrastructure and Energy Network Decarbonization) platform to optimize and evaluate decarbonization pathways for the US rail network, to now consider the entire freight supply chain under this new project,” Pablo Durango-Cohen said.

The proposed research involves developing sophisticated network optimization and simulation methods embedded in an online, open-source platform to support the roll out of decarbonized infrastructure investments, including transloading hubs and energy infrastructure, vehicles, and equipment, as well as the implementation of advanced logistics strategies to improve operations.

“A strong selling point of our proposal is the engagement of key industry stakeholders (such as the Port of Los Angeles and several major rail and trucking carriers) through the partnerships established through the NUTC Business Advisory Council,” Hani Mahmassani said.  

The NUTC platform could pinpoint opportunities for decarbonization at transloading terminals, which play a crucial role in determining the feasibility and efficiency of intermodal transit. The project will be carried out over two-and-a-half years. 

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