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Energy Systems Integration Facility

R&D Magazine's 2014
Laboratory of the Year.
Read more.

NREL's multistory Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) provides laboratory and office space for approximately 200 NREL researchers and support staff. The 182,500-ft2 building houses research to overcome challenges related to the interconnection of distributed energy systems and the integration of renewable energy technologies into the electricity grid.

Learn about the ESIF's current partners and how to work with the ESIF.

View the Welcome to the ESIF video on NREL's Public Relations channel on YouTube.

Photo of a man standing in front of a wall of computer racks loaded with equipment.
Photo of Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and NREL Director Dan Arvizu talking as they walk down a hall.
Photo of a large monitor that spans a long wall. On its screen is high-resolution data output from experiments.
Aerial photo of the Energy Systems Integration Facility.
Photo of a man wearing 3D glasses standing in a visualization laboratory that projects an image of the velocity field from a wind turbine.
Photo of a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle charging in a large bay lined with pipes and catwalks.
Photo of two men wearing 3D glasses standing in a visualization laboratory that projects an image of the molecular model of polymeric organic nitroxide radical film.
Photo of the exterior of the Energy Systems Integration Facility.
Photo of the Energy Systems Integration Lab, which is a large, multistory room with equipment installed throughout. A catwalk lines one wall, and pipes run across the ceiling and down the walls.
Photo of three people gathered around a laptop computer on a table in a bright, open meeting space.
Photo of the exterior of the Energy Systems Integration Facility.
Photo of two men working on a portable table between two plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.
Photo of a man operating a robot that simulates refueling of a hydrogen vehicle.
A large machine arm.
Photo of Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz speaking behind a podium with the Department of Energy seal.
Photo of an open, sun-filled work area of cubicles.
Photo of a man plugging in a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle to charge.
Photo of two people in lab coats and gloves lifting a sample from a metal container to test corrosion.
Photo of a large metal cabinet that contains wiring and electrical components, including a 60-kW PV-battery-diesel hybrid power system.
Photos of two men working behind a long table lined with computers and monitors. Two large monitors display data on the wall above.

Explore the interactive graphic below to learn about the ESIF's laboratories and capabilities. Click on the numbered areas to find videos or photos of the facility with brief descriptions and links to fact sheets with more detailed specifications.

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Power Systems Integration Laboratory Video
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Power Systems Integration Laboratory

Research in the Power Systems Integration Laboratory focuses on the development and testing of large-scale distributed energy systems for grid-connected, standalone, and microgrid applications. The laboratory can accommodate large power system components, such as inverters for PV and wind systems, diesel and natural gas generators, battery packs, microgrid interconnection switchgear, and vehicles.

For detailed laboratory specifications, download the Power Systems Integration Laboratory fact sheet.

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Smart Power Laboratory Video
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Smart Power Laboratory

Research in the Smart Power Laboratory focuses on the development and integration of smart technologies, including distributed and renewable energy resources and smart energy management. The 5,300-ft2 laboratory is designed to be highly flexible and configurable to enable a range of smart power activities—from developing advanced inverters and power converters to testing residential- and commercial-scale meters and control technologies.

For detailed laboratory specifications, download the Smart Power Laboratory fact sheet.

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Energy Storage Laboratory Video
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Energy Storage Laboratory

At the Energy Storage Laboratory, research focuses on the integration of energy storage systems (stationary and vehicle-mounted) and their interconnection with the utility grid. Focusing on battery technologies but also hosting ultracapacitors and other storage technologies, the laboratory provides the resources necessary to develop, test, and prove energy storage system performance and compatibility with distributed energy systems.

For detailed laboratory specifications, download the Energy Storage Laboratory fact sheet.

Photo of the Electrical Characterization Laboratory.

Electrical Characterization Laboratory

Electrical Characterization Laboratory research focuses on the detailed electrical characterization of components and systems. This lab allows researchers to test the ability of equipment, using standard and advanced fuels such as hydrogen, to withstand high voltage surges and high current faults.

For detailed laboratory specifications, download the Electrical Characterization Laboratory fact sheet.

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Energy Systems Integration Video
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Energy Systems Integration Laboratory

The Energy Systems Integration Laboratory provides a flexible, renewable-ready platform for research, development, and testing of state-of-the-art hydrogen-based and other energy storage systems. The focus of the lab is assessment of technical readiness, performance characterization, and research to help industry move toward optimal renewable-based production and efficient use of hydrogen.

For detailed laboratory specifications, download the Energy Systems Integration Laboratory fact sheet.

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Thermal Storage Process and Components Laboratory and Thermal Storage Materials Laboratory Video
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Thermal Systems Process and Components Laboratory

The focus of the Thermal Systems Process and Components Laboratory is to research, develop, test, and evaluate new techniques for thermal energy storage relevant to utility-scale concentrating solar power plants. The lab accommodates test systems for evaluating heat exchangers and thermal energy storage devices. Four test bays are available for the evaluation and future deployment of 30-kW thermal systems with alternative heat transfer fluids.

Download the Thermal Systems Process and Components Laboratory fact sheet.

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Thermal Storage Process and Components Laboratory and Thermal Storage Materials Laboratory Video
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Thermal Storage Materials Laboratory

Researchers in the Thermal Storage Materials Laboratory investigate materials that can be used as high-temperature heat transfer fluids or thermal energy storage media in concentrating solar power plants.

For detailed laboratory specifications, download the Thermal Storage Materials Laboratory fact sheet.

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Optical Characterization Laboratory Video
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Optical Characterization and Thermal Systems Laboratory

The Optical Characterization and Thermal Systems Laboratory is used for optical characterization of large solar concentration devices. Concentrating solar power mirror panels and concentrating solar systems are tested. There is an emphasis on measurement of parabolic trough mirror panels.

For detailed laboratory specifications, download the Optical Characterization Laboratory fact sheet.

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Manufacturing Laboratory, Fuel Cell Development and Test Laboratory, and Energy Systems Fabrication Laboratory Video
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Energy Systems Fabrication Laboratory

The Energy Systems Fabrication Laboratory supports NREL's fuel cell and electrochemical cell research. The lab is used for the manufacture of components for fuel cells and electrochemical cells using a variety of techniques. Fabricated components include catalysts, thin-film and gas diffusion electrodes, and membrane electrode assemblies.

For detailed laboratory specifications, download the Energy Systems Fabrication Laboratory fact sheet.

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Manufacturing Laboratory, Fuel Cell Development and Test Laboratory, and Energy Systems Fabrication Laboratory Video
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Manufacturing Laboratory

The Manufacturing Laboratory is focused on the development of methods and technologies that will assist manufacturers of hydrogen, fuel cell, and other renewable energy technologies to scale up their capabilities to meet Department of Energy and industry targets. Specifically, its focus is on the development and validation of quality-control techniques to assist manufacturers of low- and high-temperature fuel cells in the transition from low- to high-volume production for cells and stacks.

For detailed laboratory specifications, download the Manufacturing Laboratory fact sheet.

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Materials Characterization Laboratory, Electrochemical Characterization Laboratory, and Energy Systems Sensor Laboratory Video
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Materials Characterization Laboratory

Research in the Materials Characterization Laboratory focuses on the physical and photoelectrochemical characterization of novel materials. In this laboratory, unknown samples are characterized by identifying and quantifying molecular species present through the implementation of a suite of analytical instrumentation and techniques.

For detailed laboratory specifications, download the Materials Characterization Laboratory fact sheet.

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Materials Characterization Laboratory, Electrochemical Characterization Laboratory, and Energy Systems Sensor Laboratory Video
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Electrochemical Characterization Laboratory

The research focus in the Electrochemical Characterization Laboratory is on evaluating electrochemical properties of novel materials and understanding and delineating the reaction mechanisms to provide practical solutions to fuel cell commercialization issues of cost, performance, and durability. The lab also supports the development of new tools and techniques for electrochemical characterization.

For detailed laboratory specifications, download the Electrochemical Characterization Laboratory fact sheet.

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Materials Characterization Laboratory, Electrochemical Characterization Laboratory, and Energy Systems Sensor Laboratory Video
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Energy Systems Sensor Laboratory

At the Energy Systems Sensor Laboratory, researchers develop, test, and evaluate the performance of commercial and developing hydrogen sensor technologies to support the needs of the emerging hydrogen infrastructure. Information gained from the laboratory will aid in senesor manufacturing and be used in codes and standards development.

For detailed laboratory specifications, download the Energy Systems Sensor Laboratory fact sheet.

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Manufacturing Laboratory, Fuel Cell Development and Test Laboratory, and Energy Systems Fabrication Laboratory Video
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Fuel Cell Development and Test Laboratory

The state-of-the-art Fuel Cell Development and Test Laboratory supports fuel cell research and development projects through in-situ fuel cell testing. Testing capabilities include single-cell fuel cells and fuel cell stacks.

For detailed laboratory specifications, download the Fuel Cell Development and Test Laboratory fact sheet.

Photo of the Energy Systems High-Pressure Test Laboratory.

Energy Systems High Pressure Test Laboratory

The purpose of the Energy Systems High Pressure Test Laboratory is to safely test high pressure hydrogen components. High pressure tests are performed on hydrogen components primarily for the validation of new codes and standards for high-pressure hydrogen applications.

For detailed laboratory specifications, download the Energy Systems High Pressure Test Laboratory fact sheet.

Photo of the ESIF Control Room.

ESIF Control Room

The Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system in the ESIF monitors and controls research facility-based processes and gathers and disseminates real-time data for collaboration and visualization. In the ESIF control room, researchers can see the electrical bus, close switches, and checkout grid simulators.

Photo of the Energy Integration Visualization Room under construction.

Energy Integration Visualization Room

In the Energy Integration Visualization Room at the ESIF, researchers and partners can visualize experiments being performed in the electricity, thermal, and fuel labs. The Energy Integration Visualization Room uses multiple projectors whose images are blended together, which enables researchers to have one large high-definition screen instead of a set of smaller, separately controlled displays.

For more information, download the Energy Integration Visualization fact sheet.

Photo of the Secure Data Center.

National Fuel Cell Technology Evaluation Center

The National Fuel Cell Technology Evaluation Center at the ESIF plays a crucial role in NREL's independent, third-party analysis of hydrogen fuel cell technologies in real-world operation. The center is designed for secure management, storage, and processing of proprietary data from industry. While the raw data are secured by NREL to protect commercially sensitive and proprietary information, individualized analysis results are provided to the partners who supplied the data.

For more information, download the National Fuel Cell Technology Evaluation Center fact sheet.

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High Performance Computing Data Center Visualization Video
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High Performance Computing Data Center

The High Performance Computing Data Center in the ESIF is designed to be one of the most energy efficient data centers in the world, featuring warm water liquid cooling and waste heat capture and re-use. The data center will serve the breadth of NREL's mission, greatly expanding the laboratory's capabilities in modeling and simulation necessary to advance renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.

For more information, download the High Performance Computing Data Center fact sheet.

Map of the Energy Systems Integration Facility showing the research electrical distribution bus (REDB) - AC & DC.

Research Electrical Distribution Bus (REDB) - AC and DC

Map of the Energy Systems Integration Facility showing the thermal distribution bus.

Thermal Distribution Bus

Map of the Energy Systems Integration Facility showing the Fuel Distribution Bus.

Fuel Distribution Bus

Map of the Energy Systems Integration Facility showing the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) System.

Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) System

Map of the Energy Systems Integration Facility showing all buses.
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The Insight Center at the ESIF combines state-of-the-art visualization and collaboration tools to promote knowledge discovery in energy systems integration.
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Insight Center

The Insight Center in the ESIF uses advanced visualization technology to provide on-site and remote viewing of experimental data, high-resolution visual imagery, and large-scale simulation data. The Collaboration Room provides multiple workspaces in which researchers and partners from all disciplines can interactively visualize highly complex, large-scale data, systems, and operations. In the Visualization Room, large-scale imagery conveys vast amounts of visual data simultaneously.

Unique Capabilities

  • Hardware-in-the-Loop at Megawatt-Scale Power: Megawatt-scale power-in-the-loop allows researchers and manufacturers to conduct integration tests at full power and actual load levels in real-time simulations and evaluate component and system performance before going to market.

  • High Performance Computing Data Center: Petascale computing at the High Performance Computing Data Center enables unprecedented large-scale modeling and simulation of material properties, processes, and fully integrated systems that would otherwise be too expensive, too dangerous, or even impossible to study by direct experimentation.

  • Uniquely Connected: Each lab in the ESIF has its own niche with different kinds of equipment and functionality fostering research on all aspects of energy integration. The Research Electrical Distribution Bus, the ultimate power integration circuit, is made up of two AC and two DC ring buses that connect multiple sources of energy and interconnect "plug-and-play" testing components in all the labs.

  • Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition System: Integrated throughout the ESIF, a SCADA system monitors and controls the Research Electrical Distribution Bus operations and safety and gathers real-time, high-resolution data for collaboration and visualization.

  • Data Analysis and Visualization: Analysis and visualization capabilities at the ESIF go beyond what is found in a typical utility operations center. Fully integrated with hardware-in-the-loop at power capabilities, an electrical distribution bus, a SCADA system, and petascale computing, the ESIF allows researchers and NREL partners to visualize complex systems and operations in a completely virtual environment.

Workshops

NREL sponsored ESIF workshops to solicit insight from energy stakeholders and potential partners on the design and functionality of the facility, to identify priority R&D needs related to transforming our nation's energy system, and to raise awareness of the ESIF's innovative capabilities and partnering opportunities.

News and Media Contacts

Find ESIF news and information for the media in the Energy Systems Integration Facility newsroom.

More Information

To learn more about the Energy Systems Integration Facility, contact Carolyn Elam by email or by phone at 303-275-3036.