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Research and Development

Photo of thermal imaging of a battery.

Advancing energy storage devices is a crucial pathway in the development of fuel cell, hybrid electric, and electric vehicles (FCVs, HEVs, and EVs) that will lead to increased fuel efficiency and reduced emissions. The Energy Storage Project at NREL works on researching and developing energy storage (ES) devices through a number of key areas of expertise, as described below.

Energy storage thermal management is critical for maintaining the desired temperature range of the high-power battery packs and ultracapacitor stacks used in advanced vehicles. ES thermal management consists of analysis, characterization, and testing. At NREL we work with industry partners on thermal management to optimize battery and ultracapacitor performance and life. For example, researchers are developing new approaches and designs that will reduce the thermal resistance of various components in a battery cell and achieve more uniform temperatures.

Photo of energy storage laboratory.

Modeling and simulation enable researchers to evaluate technical targets and investigate trade-offs among various ES parameters for different vehicle types. NREL works with partners to develop, improve, evaluate, and validate ES models. These models are included in the ADVISOR™ software library. We are also investigating various combinations of ultracapacitors and batteries to increase ES system efficiency and potentially reduce their cost. We work with USABC to define energy storage requirements for FCV's HEV's and EV's.

Photo of a researching conducting modeling and simulation of energy storage devices.

Research at NREL's state-of-the-art energy storage laboratory helps developers and automobile manufacturers improve batteries and ultracapacitors through thermal and electrical characterization. At the lab, our team conducts world-class research in ES thermal characterization and measurement, ES modeling and simulation—all from a vehicle systems perspective.