Research into advanced materials, better batteries, and longer-lasting auto engines are among projects receiving nearly $12 million in fresh federal grants. The awards go to laboratories of the Department of Energy (DOE). They'll help pay for three years of research in partnership with industry. At Argonne National Laboratory, researchers will seek to improve the understanding of carbon films to allow extended wear life, reduced maintenance costs, and increased energy efficiency in automobile engines. Another Argonne grant goes for development of new electrodes for producing magnesium. Work on new materials for rechargeable lithium batteries will take place at Brookhaven National Lab. At both Oak Ridge and Argonne, industry and government engineers will develop models of complex underhood thermal phenomena. That, DOE officials say, could lead to better designs for current and future vehicles.