The following feature stories take an in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at how NREL is advancing energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies.
Oct. 13, 2020
Integrated Hydrogen Sensor/Separation Module Boosts Long-Term Efficiency and Revenue in Solar Power Plants
Concentrating solar power (CSP) plants generate clean energy to power our communities. Yet, one consistent challenge of CSP plants is hydrogen buildup, which can be costly to mitigate and reduces plant efficiency. NREL researcher Greg Glatzmaier has spent much of his career finding a solution.
Oct. 1, 2020
NREL's new perovskite material, marketed as Apex Flex, broke through two design barriers to arrive at a solar cell that is flexible and stable enough for car-top application at a cost 200 times less than flexible PV technologies of similar specific power.
Sept. 24, 2020
Through a novel chemistry using nontoxic resources like linseed oil, waste grease, or even algae, chemist Phil Pienkos and colleague Tao Dong, an expert in chemical engineering, have developed a groundbreaking method for producing renewable polyurethane without toxic precursors.
Sept. 15, 2020
Across the world, renewable power is displacing traditional generation, but can renewables also replace the critical stability functions that go with it? NREL studies are confirming in the field and on live power systems that solar, wind, and hybrid power plants can provide their own source of grid stability—potentially unlike anything currently on the grid.
Sept. 8, 2020
In a small Athabascan village on the Yukon River, a new house is going up. Tribal leaders in Huslia, Alaska, hope homes like this will attract health care and law enforcement workers to the remote Arctic community. Staying warm is the center of life at this latitude and the driving purpose of the Cold Climate Housing Research Center.
Aug. 18, 2020
A year into their unique collaboration, NREL and ExxonMobil are navigating a multi-pronged effort toward a future where clean-burning biofuels replace some petroleum-based fuels.
Aug. 3, 2020
As electric vehicle sales continue to rev up in the United States, the power grid is in parallel contending with the greatest transformation in its 100-year history: the large-scale integration of renewable energy and power electronic devices. The changes will test the limits of grid integration, but NREL sees opportunity at the intersection of energy systems and transportation.
June 16, 2020
NASA is using WEC-Sim (Wave Energy Converter SIMulator), an open-source code developed by NREL and Sandia National Laboratories, to ensure NASA’s Orion Crew Model uprights and remains upright upon landing in the ocean.
May 14, 2020
A common vision for the future of the nation's energy grid involves homeowners selling unused power generated from rooftop solar panels to others in their communities, and working together to help ensure the reliability, resiliency, and security of the power grid everyone uses. But how can the grid manage such complex energy transactions at scale? Several emerging solutions rely on blockchain technology.
May 1, 2020
Hydrogen-fueled cars are increasingly popular in California, but moving beyond the state's borders may require 18-wheelers crisscrossing America's highways leading the way. Research at NREL suggests a shift in long-haul trucking toward hydrogen that could drive a coast-to-coast network of fueling stations.
April 22, 2020
Five decades ago, an idea sprouted into an event that grew into a movement, which today, on its 50th anniversary, we recognize as Earth Day—a global day of awareness and a celebration of principle, responsibility, and sustainability. NREL has always enjoyed strong ties to Earth Day. The laboratory's second director, Denis Hayes, played a key role in its creation, coordinating the first Earth Day in 1970.
April 16, 2020
"Earth Day is about looking at how we use energy and how we can increase sustainability by reducing our negative impact on Earth," said NREL's Roderick Jackson. "Buildings are the largest consumers of energy. If a building can be designed in a way that allows us to accelerate that clean energy future… that's what we're doing here."
April 3, 2020
NREL Materials Science Center Director Nancy Haegel's fingerprints were on semiconductor light detectors aboard NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. Her research in semiconductors continues to inspire others and inform her activities at NREL.
March 25, 2020
Ten years since its founding, the Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis continues to provide critical insights linking energy, society, and prosperity around the world.
March 2, 2020
Traditional solar modules convert light to electricity using photovoltaic cells on the top side of the panels. Now, NREL researchers are shining a light on what lies beneath. Data from June through November 2019 revealed up to a 9% gain in energy production using bifacial panels compared with their one-sided cousins.
Feb. 17, 2020
NREL Senior Scientist Gina Fioroni displays the same tenacity in her research on fuel as in her pursuit of ultrarunning events.
Jan. 28, 2020
During fiscal year 2019, NREL filed a record 124 patent applications and counted a record 233 disclosures — a category that includes 161 records of invention and 72 software records. NREL-developed software is protectable by copyright, while records of invention can be protected with patent applications.
Jan. 2, 2020
An oft-repeated refrain—the sun doesn't always shine, is sometimes seen as an impediment to renewable energy. But it's also an impetus toward discovering the best ways to store that energy until it's needed.