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Kenneth Kelly

Researcher V-Systems Engineering

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Kenneth Kelly manages NREL's commercial vehicle technologies team, which works with industry and fleet partners to evaluate the performance and support the development of advanced medium- and heavy-duty vehicle technologies. He spearheaded the creation of several key resources—the DriveCAT drive cycle analysis tool and the Fleet DNA repository of commercial fleet vehicle operating data—in NREL's arsenal of integrated modeling and analysis tools. These tools, often used in partnership with industry, provide data-driven insight for overcoming technical barriers and informing the development of transportation technologies and systems that maximize energy savings and on-road performance. He also leads NREL's advanced transportation efforts for the Athena project, applying high-performance computing and advanced analytics to improve vehicle efficiency at airports and seaports. 

During his 25-year tenure at NREL, his research has spanned various aspects of advanced transportation technologies including commercial vehicle electrification, vehicle drive cycle and duty cycle characterization, hybrid electric vehicle systems, thermal management of automotive power electronics, alternative fuel vehicle emissions, and robust optimization using computer-aided engineering for hybrid electric and fuel cell vehicles. He also completed a two-year assignment at the Hawaii State Energy Office, serving as NREL's project leader for the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative and co-chairing its Transportation Working Group. Kelly has authored or coauthored more than 60 technical publications to date.

Research Interests

Commercial vehicle technologies

Electric vehicle grid integration

Sustainable mobility

Transportation data and tools

Truck platooning


M.S., Mechanical Engineering, Ohio University

B.S., Mechanical Engineering, Ohio University

Professional Experience

National Renewable Energy Laboratory:

Team Lead, Commercial Vehicle Technologies (2012–Present)
Senior Project Lead, Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative (2010–2012)
Team Lead, Advanced Power Electronics and Motors (2006–2010)
Senior Engineer, Advanced Vehicle Systems (1995–2006)
Project Engineer, Alternative Fuels Data Center (1991–1995)

Manufacturing Engineer, Swagelok Valve and Fittings (1987–1989)

Computer-Aided Design, Sunpower, Inc. (1989–1991)

Design Draftsman, Ohio Broach and Machine Company (1980–1986)

Featured Work

MOVES Activity Updates Using Fleet DNA Data: Interim Report, NREL Strategic Partnership Project Report (2019)

Characterization of Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicle Operations from In-Use Data: An Analysis of Starts, Soak Time, and Warm-Up Duration, NREL Strategic Partnership Project Report (2019)

Development of 80- and 100-Mile Work Day Cycles Representative of Commercial Pickup and Delivery Operation, WCX World Congress Experience (2018)

The Development of Vocational Vehicle Drive Cycles and Segmentation, NREL Technical Report (2017)

Heavy-Duty Vehicle Port Drayage Drive Cycle Characterization and Development, SAE Commercial Vehicle Engineering Congress (2016)

Field Evaluation of Medium-Duty Plug-in Electric Delivery Trucks, NREL Technical Report (2016)

View all NREL publications for Kenneth Kelly.


Fluid-Cooled Heat Sink with Improved Fin Areas and Efficiencies for Use in Cooling Various Devices, U.S. Patent No. 9,010,405 (2015)

Awards and Honors

NREL President's Award for significant technical and leadership achievements in advancing NREL's capabilities in the heavy-duty vehicle arena

NREL Director's Award for significant technical and leadership achievements in advanced power electronics and electric machines research

NREL Staff Award for outstanding performance, extraordinary productivity, and significant contributions to the Center for Transportation Technologies

China Automotive Technology and Research Center’s Letter of Appointment for consulting expertise in research and development of China new energy automotive test drive cycles