Skip navigation to main content.
NREL - National Renewable Energy Laboratory
About NRELEnergy AnalysisScience and TechnologyTechnology TransferTechnology DeploymentEnergy Systems Integration

Center for Transportation Technologies and Systems Video (Text Version)

This is the text version for the Center for Transportation Technologies and Systems video.

The video opens with an image of a dark red flower, trembling in the breeze. It pulls out to a shot of grass-covered hills. Finally, it turns to an image of a truck driving down a highway.

It is one of our greatest challenges: to steer the future of transportation in a more secure, sustainable direction.

The video follows a presentation given outside the NREL campus. Several people are sitting outside in rows of chairs, listening to NREL's Director speak from behind a podium.

Dan Arvizu, NREL Director: "Today we launch the NREL vehicle test fleet."

The video fades in to an image of researchers walking through a parking lot filled with vehicles. All of the vehicles have the NREL logo on them. The video pans through several images of researchers talking about their work.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado is key to developing the affordable, efficient technologies that will drive the vehicles of tomorrow.

Researcher: "Ready to go for a drive?"

Researcher: "If you were to take the cars in the United States and park them, end to end, and place them around the equator, they would go around the equator 27 times."

Barbara Goodman speaks in her office from behind her desk.

Barbara Goodman, Director of the Center for Transportation Technologies and Systems: "I think when we talk about achieving energy independence in the future, there isn't going to be one single solution. I think it's going to be a portfolio of options."

The video returns to images of researchers working outside among their vehicles.

It takes an integrated approach to improve our alternative fuels and to advance the vehicles they power.

Researcher: "This is a smart car."

"This vehicle is as clean as any gasoline vehicle coming off the assembly line today. It meets current EPA standards."

Researcher: "The next two vehicles are actually electric."

The team in NREL's Center for Transportation Technologies and Systems...

Researchers are working inside of a laboratory. The video goes from a shot of a man holding a glass bottle filled with a light gold liquid to another who is holding a long, flat battery.

Researcher: "This is a sample of 100% biodiesel."

(Voiceover) evaluating environmentally-friendly fuels...

Researcher: "If you actually feel the weight of this particular battery, it's extremely light."

...enhancing energy storage and power electronics...

Researcher: "We just plug it in..."

...testing hybrid technologies...

A woman stands in a dark room, in front of a large screen that is displaying a map of the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Ann Brennan, Manager, Technology Evaluation & Integration Group: "Our incentives and laws database..."

...and making the latest information easily accessible.

Barbara Goodman: "We're fuel-neutral and technology-neutral because we don't have a preferred solution that says this is the answer. Instead, what we try to do is provide unbiased information to help inform decision makers."

The Fuels Performance Group's researchers are working in a laboratory. There are several shots of researchers, wearing lab coats and goggles, working in the lab. There are many shots of glass bottles, full of alternative fuels.

Robert McCormick, Principal Engineer, Fuel Performance Group: "The interest has gone from almost zero to almost more than we can handle."

Producers of alternative fuels...

Robert McCormick: "Primarily today, we're looking at ethanol and biodiesel."

...send samples here for answers.

Robert McCormick: "For a new fuel, we look at how it impacts how an engine operates, or how much air pollutant emissions come out of the tailpipe, the durability of the engine, and the emissions controls."

The Fuels Performance group provides in-depth analysis, looks at proper storage and handling, and helps set quality specifications. Demand for renewable fuels is high. Getting affordable, reliable products to the consumer is critical.

Robert McCormick: "We are striving to be a resource for industry."

In the Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center, a woman is standing in front of a large screen. Web sites from the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy's Clean Cities and Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center scroll by.

Ann Brennan: "We maintain a database here in the AFDC of where all of the alternative fuel stations are located around the country."

The Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center is a free online resource for drivers, fleet managers, and government agencies.

Ann Brennan: "Everybody is clamoring for this information."

NREL's Technology Evaluation and Integration group created this site to make sure accurate information is readily available.

Ann Brennan: "How many flex-fuel vehicles are on the road? How many stations are out there? This is really designed to be the one-stop shop where that kind of information is provided."

A researcher from the Testing and Analysis Group is driving a car down a long, narrow road. The NREL logo is painted on the car, which is later shown plugged into a solar array.

This is where clean energy research hits the open road.

Tony Markel, Senior Engineer, Testing and Analysis Group: "It's a rolling laboratory where we can install equipment as we need to."

This car was converted to a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle for NREL engineers.

Tony Markel: "Plug-in hybrids are really one step in our path towards electrifying transportation."

The successful roll-out of fuel- and battery-powered cars is generating interest in plug-in technology. It's one more way to tap into renewable energy sources to reduce our petroleum dependence and improve air quality.

Tony Markel: "If you follow the cord all the way back, we're basically connected to a 3 ½ kilowatt solar array."

This experimental car allows researchers to analyze the various components in action, from power electronics to battery packs.

Tony Markel: "We will be able to look at what kind of performance batteries have in a plug-in hybrid application, where we are charging and discharging that battery significantly, and how much fuel savings we can get from fueling the vehicle primarily with electricity."

A researcher from the Energy Storage group stands in a laboratory full of loud, humming machinery. The video pans through several images of batteries—some long and cylindrical, some thin and narrow.

Matt Keyser, Senior Engineer, Energy Storage: "Energy storage devices have been known as the Achilles' heel in getting hybrids, or plug-in hybrids, or even electric vehicles on the road."

Overcoming the challenges of producing lower cost, lighter weight batteries for advanced vehicles. That's the work taking place inside the energy storage lab.

Matt Keyser: "We're trying to get the cost down to about $20 per kilowatt."

The cost now is as high as $150 a kilowatt. Engineers also need to extend battery life and optimize performance. Sophisticated calorimeters, including one developed here at NREL, allow researchers to see how an energy storage device functions in extreme conditions.

Matt Keyser: "So we can look at how it performs in very cold temperatures, like in Minnesota versus very warm temperatures in Phoenix."

This lab also looks at heat generation.

While Matt Keyser talks, the video focuses on a heat-sensing screen in front of him. As he talks, the screen shows the heat given off by his face.

Matt Keyser: "You just don't want to waste energy in the form of heat. You'd rather it go to acceleration to get down the road."

Temperature is a big concern when it comes to energy storage and power electronics.

Sreekant Narumanchi, Senior Engineer, Advanced Power Electronics: "And once the temperature goes up, they start failing a lot faster, and that's important because that's the whole context of our work here—cutting down on temperature."

The chemical makeup and thermal management of both batteries and power electronics directly impact lifetime and reliability. Power electronics move energy between the battery and electric motor.

Several machines are set up to keep track of the amount of heat batteries are producing. The batteries are hooked up to machines, and screens display the amount of heat produced.

Rob Farrington, Manager, Advanced Vehicles Group: "In the process, though, they generate heat. A lot of heat."

NREL researchers are working on designs and techniques.

Rob Farrington: "It's actually sweeping the surface back and forth, cooling a greater surface area."

To efficiently cool these devices, temperature also is about comfort.

Rob Farrington: "We use about seven billion gallons a year to air condition our cars. That's the equivalent to 5% of our imported oil."

A large mannequin is sitting in a wheelchair.

That's where ADAM comes in: NREL's computer-controlled, breathing, sweating manikin...

Rob Farrington: "It heats like a human skin and sweats like a human skin."

...helps researchers find more efficient ways to heat and cool vehicles.

Rob Farrington: "By reducing the temperature in the vehicle while it's soaking, we can not only save fuel, but we can save lives as well."

Barbara Goodman: "It's so exciting to see where things have come from and where they're going. It's just a great time to be in this field."

The urgent need for affordable energy security and environmental stewardship...

As the video comes to a close, the video passes through all of the areas covered before: the laboratories at the Technology Evaluation and Integration group, the large screens displaying data at the Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center, the vehicles on the road at the Testing and Analysis Group.

Tony Markel: "This is one of the more promising types of vehicles."

(Voiceover) fueling the demand for advanced vehicle technologies and driving the work of NREL researchers in the Center for Transportation Technologies and Systems. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory is ushering in a new era of greener, cleaner transportation.

Tony Markel: "It seems to me that there are few things in life that get people as excited as a bunch of cool cars."

The video ends with the NREL logo.