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Prototype and Component Development

NREL develops and tests prototype technologies in its Energy Systems Integration Facility, which can accommodate large power system components. Unique feature such as petascale computing, interconnected AC and DC power circuits, an integrated SCADA system, megawatt-scale power-in-the-loop, and state-of-the-art data analysis and visualization capabilities enable us to help companies bring new technologies to market with more confidence and less risk.

Creating an experimental model at an appropriate scale is one of the challenges of introducing new and innovative technologies to the electricity grid. Specialized laboratories at the Energy Systems Integration Facility are used for research, development, and demonstration in this area. For example:

  • Optical characterization of large solar concentration devices is undertaken in the Optical Characterization Laboratory. Concentrating solar power mirror panels and concentrating solar systems are tested, with an emphasis on measurement of parabolic trough mirror panels.

  • At the Electrochemical Characterization Laboratory, researchers evaluate the electrochemical properties of novel materials and delineate reaction mechanisms to provide practical solutions to commercialization issues of cost, performance, and durability.

  • Development, testing, and performance evaluation of commercial hydrogen sensor technologies occurs in the Energy Systems Sensor Laboratory. Although the lab focuses on fuel cells, many of the fabrication and characterization capabilities apply to other energy storage devices, such as batteries.

  • The state-of-the-art Fuel Cell Development and Test Laboratory supports fuel cell research on the performance and durability of single fuel cells and fuel cell stacks.

  • Researchers safely test high-pressure hydrogen components in the Energy Systems High Pressure Test Laboratory. High-pressure hydrogen storage is an integral part of energy storage technology for fuel cell and other distributed energy scenarios.

  • The Thermal Systems Process and Components Laboratory enables the research, development, testing, and evaluation of new techniques for thermal energy storage systems that are relevant to utility-scale concentrating solar power plants.

Learn more about NREL's prototype and component development R&D with these partners: