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NREL | Energy Systems Integration Facility | U.S. Department of Energy

Manufacturing and Material Diagnostics

Manufacturing and material diagnostics help manufacturers of clean energy technologies scale up production to volumes that meet U.S. Department of Energy and industry targets.  The Energy Systems Integration Facility provides an array of instrumentation and diagnostic tools that allows highly skilled researchers to perform novel experimentation that would be cost- and time-prohibitive for most institutions.

Currently, manufacturing activities are focused on developing and validating quality-control techniques with state-of-the-art continuous web processing (roll-to-roll) equipment and various diagnostic measurement platforms. Material diagnostics can be safely performed with an array of analytical instrumentation.

Photo of a robotic arm holding a hydrogen fueling hose.

The Energy Systems Integration Facility allows researchers to test energy system components—such as the hydrogen fueling hose seen here—to failure to assess long-term reliability.

Research Activities

Manufacturing and material diagnostic activities that can be performed in the Energy Systems Integration Facility include:  

  • In-line validation of quality-control techniques for manufacturers
  • Testing of instrument and sensor compatibility with hot heat transfer fluids
  • Determination and benchmarking of novel electrocatalyst activity
  • Determination of electrochemical surface area
  • Evaluation of the life span of sensors with separate dedicated life test fixtures
  • Testing of sensors for process applications, including responses under high hydrogen concentrations
  • Coating, casting, deposition of functional layers, drying, and curing of novel electrolcatalytic materials
  • Systematic study of the performance and lifetime effects and the evaluation of in-house and externally developed quality-control diagnostics for high-volume fuel cell production
  • Evolved gas analysis
  • Catalyst characterization
  • Trace-level contaminants analysis
  • Isotopic analysis for elucidating reaction mechanisms and decoupling chemical reactions
  • Discovery and evaluation of candidate fluids and phase-change materials to serve as working fluids or thermal energy storage media in the temperature range 300°C to 800°C
  • Preparation of thermal storage materials that are sensitive to moisture, oxygen, or trace gases
  • Evaluation of thermo-physical properties such as melting point, heat of fusion, density, viscosity, and thermal stability of candidate materials.