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Research Collaborations

NREL leads and participates in national and international science and technology collaborations, including joint institutes, Energy Frontier Research Centers, Energy Materials Network consortia, and other research interactions.

Joint Institutes

CRES—Colorado Renewable Energy Collaboratory

This consortium commercializes technologies, supports economic growth, and educates the workforce. NREL partners with the Colorado School of Mines, Colorado State University, and the University of Colorado at Boulder.

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ICMC—International Center for Multiscale Characterization

ICMC focuses on critical issues in energy-related materials science while advancing the state of the art in multiscale characterization. Of special interest are materials for photovoltaic, battery, and fuel cell applications, as well as lightweight alloys, composites, and membranes.

ICMC is supported jointly by scientists at NREL and the Colorado School of Mines. It represents a new opportunity for these two institutions to collaborate with industry partners, providing access to their expert researchers and research facilities.

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JISEA—Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis

JISEA (pronounced jye-SEE-uh) provides leading-edge, objective, high-impact research and analysis to guide global energy investment and policy decisions. Focused on the nexus of energy, finance, and society, JISEA is guiding the transformation of the global energy economy.

JISEA is operated by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC, on behalf of its founding partners: the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, University of Colorado-Boulder, Colorado School of Mines, Colorado State University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Stanford University.


CEMAC—Clean Energy Manufacturing Analysis Center

Operated by JISEA, the Clean Energy Manufacturing Analysis Center (CEMAC) provides objective analysis and up-to-date data on global clean energy manufacturing. Policymakers and industry leaders seek CEMAC insights to inform choices to promote economic growth and the transition to a clean energy economy.


RASEI—Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute

RASEI (pronounced RAY-see) is a joint institute between the University of Colorado Boulder and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory addressing important, complex problems in energy that require a multidisciplinary, multi-institutional approach. Its mission is to expedite solutions that transform energy by advancing renewable energy science, engineering, and analysis through research, education, and industry partnerships.


Energy Frontier Research Centers

BETCy—Biological Electron Transfer and Catalysis

The mission of the BETCy EFRC is to define the molecular mechanisms controlling electron flow in coupling electrochemical potential energy to chemical bond formation.

This center, led by Montana State University, includes partners from NREL, Arizona State University, Duke University, University of Georgia, University of Kentucky, University of Washington, Utah State University, and Washington State University.

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C3Bio—Center for Direct Catalytic Conversion of Biomass to Biofuels

Purdue University, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Northeastern University (NEU) and the University of Tennessee (UT), form a strategic partnership to develop transformational knowledge and enabling technologies that maximize the energy and carbon efficiencies of biofuel production by the rational and synergistic design both of biomass and of thermal and chemical conversion processes. The Center for Direct Catalytic Conversion of Biomass to Biofuels is focused on generating and using new knowledge of catalyst-biomass interactions driven by strong collaboration between experts in the structure, biochemistry and synthesis of biomass, in advanced imaging and analytical techniques, and in chemical engineering and catalysis. Interdisciplinary teamwork promotes a culture of creativity at the interface of physical and life sciences as biologists' knowledge of biomass chemistry and capabilities to engineer plant characteristics combine with the catalytic science and technology of engineers and chemists.

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CNGMD—Center for Next Generation Materials by Design

The CNGMD's mission is to dramatically transform the discovery of functional energy materials through multiple-property searching, incorporation of metastable materials into predictive design, and development of theory to guide materials synthesis.

NREL leads this center, which includes partners from Colorado School of Mines, Harvard University, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Oregon State University, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, and the University of Colorado Boulder.


CASP—Center for Advanced Solar Photophysics

The goal of CASP is to explore and exploit the unique physics of nanostructured materials to boost the efficiency of solar energy conversion. Center scientists pursue this goal through novel light-matter interactions, controlled excited-state dynamics, and engineered carrier-carrier coupling. Breakthroughs in solar energy conversion are expected to come from discoveries of new physical phenomena and/or materials with engineered functionalities.

CASP is co-led by Los Alamos National Laboratory and NREL, with partners from the Colorado School of Mines, Rice University, University of California Irvine, University of Colorado, University of Minnesota, and George Mason University.

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Energy Materials Network Consortia

ChemCatBio—Chemical Catalysis for Bioenergy Consortium

ChemCatBio leverages unique DOE national lab capabilities to address technical risks associated with accelerating the development of catalysts and related technologies for the commercialization of biomass-derived fuels and chemicals, leading to enhanced energy security and national leadership in the global bioeconomy.

NREL is joined in this consortium by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, and Idaho National Laboratory.

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DuraMAT—Durable Module Materials Consortium

DuraMAT brings together the national lab and university research infrastructure with the photovoltaic (PV) and supply-chain industries for a grand goal—to discover, develop, de-risk, and enable the commercialization of new materials and designs for PV modules—with the potential for a levelized cost of electricity of less than 3 cents per kilowatt-hour.

NREL leads this consortium, with partners from Sandia National Laboratories, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. We envision doubling the rate at which companies can implement new materials in PV modules by coupling an Energy Materials Network architecture with PV durability science and state-of-the-art analysis.

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ElectroCat—Electrocatalysis Consortium

ElectroCat has the goal of accelerating the development of catalysts made without platinum group metals (PGM-free) for use in automotive fuel cell applications. Current state-of-the-art fuel cell systems rely on platinum-based catalysts that make up nearly 50% of the total fuel cell cost. ElectroCat aims to bring together a network of enduring tools and expertise across the national laboratory network under a streamlined, single point of contact interface that makes it easy for industry and academic partners to quickly gain access to the consortium.

Argonne National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory lead this consortium. Partners include NREL and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

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HydroGEN—Advanced Water Splitting Materials Consortium

HydroGEN is addressing advanced water-splitting materials challenges by making unique, world-class national lab capabilities—in photoelectrochemical, solar thermochemical, and low- and high-temperature electrolytic water-splitting—more accessible to academia, industry, and other national labs.

NREL leads this consortium, which also includes Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, Idaho National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and Savannah River National Laboratory.

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HyMARC—The Hydrogen Materials—Advanced Research Consortium

HyMARC is a consortium of three national laboratories: Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore, CA; Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. HyMARC assembles deep national laboratory expertise in hydrogen science, large-scale computational modeling, and state-of-the-art characterization tools to accelerate discovery of solid-state materials for on-board vehicular hydrogen storage.

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LightMAT—Lightweight Materials Consortium

ElectroCat has the goal of accelerating the development of catalysts made without platinum group metals (PGM-free) for use in automotive fuel cell applications. Current state-of-the-art fuel cell systems rely on platinum-based catalysts that make up nearly 50% of the total fuel cell cost. ElectroCat aims to bring together a network of enduring tools and expertise across the national laboratory network under a streamlined, single point of contact interface that makes it easy for industry and academic partners to quickly gain access to the consortium.

The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory leads this consortium. Partners include: NREL, Ames Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory, Idaho National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, National Energy Technology Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratories.

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Other Research Consortia and Collaborations

BESC—BioEnergy Science Center

BESC is a research organization performing basic and applied science dedicated to enable the emergence of a sustainable cellulosic biofuels industry by leading advances in science and science-based innovation resulting in removal of recalcitrance as an economic barrier to cost-effective production of biofuels.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory leads this consortium. NREL is joined by 17 other partners in this this multidisciplinary research, which encompasses the biological, chemical, physical, and computational sciences, as well as mathematics and engineering.

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CCPC—Consortium for Computational Physics and Chemistry

The Consortium for Computational Physics and Chemistry (CCPC) is a joint core research and development activity among five national laboratories that has been created to utilize unique DOE computational modeling facilities and experience in order to accelerate the discovery and deployment of novel materials in support of the Energy Materials Network and the Materials Genome Initiative. The CCPC also computationally bridges the chemical reactions occurring at the nanoscale to reactor- and plant-scale processes to enable critical experimental verifications in the BETO program and predict the effects of process scale-up on the techno-economic analysis of commercial scale operations.

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Co-Optima—Co-Optimization of Fuels & Engines

This initiative is simultaneously transforming fuels and engines to maximize vehicle performance and affordability, while improving fuel economy and fuel diversification. Co-Optima's research is arming industry, policymakers, and other key stakeholders with the scientific foundation and market intelligence required to make informed investment decisions, break down barriers to commercialization, and bring new high-performance fuels and advanced engine systems to market sooner.

NREL is collaborating with Argonne, Idaho, Lawrence Berkeley, Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, Pacific Northwest, and Sandia National Laboratories, as well as university and industry partners, on this groundbreaking research.

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CAEBAT—Computer-Aided Engineering for Electric-Drive Vehicle Batteries

This project is accelerating the development and lowering the cost of high-performance lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries for next-generation electric-drive vehicles (EDVs) through the development of new computer-aided software engineering tools. CAEBAT tools are helping battery designers, developers, and manufacturers create the advanced battery technologies needed to boost EDV performance and consumer appeal.

The CAEBAT Consortium includes NREL and Argonne, Oak Ridge, and Sandia National Laboratories. CAEBAT partners from other research organizations and industry include A123 Systems, ANSYS, Battery Design LLC, CD-adapco, EC Power, ESim, Ford, General Motors (GM), Johnson Controls, Inc., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Penn State University, Texas A&M University, and USCAR Crash Safety Working Group.


IACMI—Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation

IACMI is a public-private partnership between NREL and other national laboratories, industry, universities, and federal, state, and local governments. By sharing resources and co-investing in accelerated development and commercial deployment for advanced composites, IACMI works to achieve domestic manufacturing innovation.

NREL leads IACMI's wind turbine technology area and recently opened the Composites Manufacturing Education and Technology Facility (CoMET), which enables the laboratory to lead composites research projects for the wind turbine industry. The facility allows for a wide variety of manufacturing techniques, including rapid prototyping of new blade materials and production methods and full-scale blade component tooling.


iiESI—International Institute for Energy Systems Integration

The International Institute for Energy Systems Integration (iiESI) is a global membership-based organization of leading researchers, educators, and practitioners addressing the technical challenges associated with the integration of multiple energy systems.

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PVQAT—Photovoltaic Quality Assurance Task Force

The International PVQAT leads global efforts to craft quality and reliability standards for solar energy technologies. These standards will allow stakeholders to quickly assess a solar photovoltaic module's performance and ability to withstand local weather stresses, thereby reducing risk and adding confidence for those developing products, designing incentive programs, and determining private investments.

NREL provides leadership in the overall effort and on several task groups.


SERIIUS—Solar Energy Research Institute for India and the United States

SERIIUS is a bi-national network that is developing disruptive technologies through foundational research in photovoltaics and concentrating solar power to address the critical barriers for solar energy development in India that intersect the grand challenges for solar energy in the United States.

SERIIUS is co-led by NREL and the Indian Institute of Science Bangalore and seeks to create an environment for cooperation and innovation" without borders," to develop and ready emerging revolutionary solar electricity technologies toward the long-term success of India's Jawaharlal Nehru Solar National Energy Mission and DOE's SunShot Initiative.