The U.S. Department of Energy granted $13 million to Universities in the U.S. for combustion and emission controls research and development projects that will increase vehicle fuel economy in the near to mid-term, the department said Monday.

The goal is to develop high efficiency internal combustion engines that meet the goals of improving fuel economies by 20-40 percent in light-duty vehicles and attain 55 percent brake thermal efficiency in heavy-duty engine systems.

Advancing vehicle technologies is a significant part of DOE's Vehicle Technologies Program, which aims to develop vehicle technologies and clean, renewable fuels that could dramatically reduce the demand for petroleum, decrease emissions of air pollutants and greenhouse gases, and enable the U.S. transportation industry to sustain a strong, competitive position in domestic and world markets, the Department of Energy said in a statement Monday.

The six universities selected under the DOE's Vehicle Technology Program are The University of Wisconsin, the University of Houston, Michigan State University, Michigan Technological University, The University of Michigan and the University of Connecticut.