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Research and Development

Photo of vehicle climate control testing at the Ancillary Loads Laboratory.

Vehicle Testing at the Vehicle Ancillary Loads Reduction Laboratory

The Vehicle Ancillary Loads Reduction (VALR) activity at NREL focuses on reducing engine loads imposed by ancillary systems such as air conditioning, with the ultimate goal of reducing fuel consumption without compromising passenger comfort. Toward that end, we use our integrated modeling expertise to research and develop advanced climate control systems employing technologies such as solar-reflective window glazing, parked car ventilation, and cooled, heated, and ventilated seats. Another area of interest and research is heat generated cooling technologies including thermoacoustics, metal hydride heat pumps, zeolite systems, absorption refrigeration, and thermoelectrics.

A major part of our research focuses on the technology used to test and measure the effectiveness of climate control systems using our recently developed thermal manikin and modeling tools. The ADvanced Automotive Manikin (ADAM) is portable and can be transported to other research facilities. Much of our research is conducted at the Vehicle Ancillary Loads Reduction Laboratory, located in Golden, Colorado. The laboratory houses ADAM, as well as a passenger compartment climate simulator, heat generated cooling testing equipment, and other state-of-the-art tools.