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About the Project

U.S. reliance on oil threatens our energy security and degrades air quality in many cities. Recognizing this, DOE established the Vehicle Technologies Office to lead the nation to a cleaner, more secure transportation future. One important aim of the program is to advance energy storage (ES) technologies for fuel cell, electric, and hybrid electric vehicles (FCVs, EVs and HEVs) to increase fuel efficiency and reduce emissions. NREL supports the program's Energy Storage activity, which advances these technologies by addressing cost, lifetime, abuse tolerance, and performance barriers.

The vision for energy storage technologies is to develop durable, safe, and affordable advanced batteries and ultracapacitors that cover a wide range of vehicle applications, including FCVs, EVs and HEVs. These development efforts will also deliver technology that is directly applicable to heavy hybrid vehicle ES requirements.

To meet this vision, NREL and DOE work with the automotive industry, represented by the U.S. Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC) to enable and support the development of advanced energy storage technologies. DOE's Energy Storage activity focuses on basic and applied research, technology development and benchmarking, and other related research, such as ES thermal analysis and characterization, target analysis, and support for small business innovation research. DOE's ES activity has identified technical targets for several kinds of advanced vehicles.

To support DOE's ES goals, NREL's energy storage project aims to improve battery modules and ultracapacitors. The project:

  • Develops and improves thermal management systems that satisfy FCVT technical targets by enabling battery/ultracapacitor cells and modules to meet pack-level life and performance targets under real-world driving conditions.
  • Develops battery, ultracapacitor, and full ES system models for vehicle simulations and optimization and target analysis studies.

ES technical targets include delivering 625 W/kg with an available energy of 7.5 Wh/kg, which last 15 years and cost $20/kW for full HEVs.

Much of NREL's research is conducted at the state-of-the-art energy storage laboratory. This laboratory houses two unique calorimeters—the Large-Volume Battery Calorimeter and the Battery Module Conduction Calorimeter—to measure heat generation from batteries and ultracapacitors over a wide range of temperatures, power profiles, and sizes. Thermal imaging equipment captures a device's infrared fingerprint to diagnose its behavior. Our thermal analysis capabilities make use of several computer-aided engineering tools. NREL's capabilities enable world-class research in ES thermal management and vehicle modeling and simulation from a vehicle systems perspective.