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John Farrell

Laboratory Program Manager, Vehicle Technologies

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John Farrell is the laboratory program manager for vehicle technologies and a Distinguished Member of the Research Staff at NREL. He manages the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Office RD&D portfolio at the lab, which includes technologies spanning vehicle electrification, batteries/energy storage, power electronics, vehicle/grid interactions, biofuel/advanced engine interactions, smart mobility (connected/autonomous vehicles and urban sciences), analysis, and technology integration. He also manages the RD&D portfolio for the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation. Additionally, he is responsible for developing and integrating NREL’s advanced mobility strategy with broader initiatives across NREL, other DOE national labs, and industry.

Farrell came to NREL after 15 years at ExxonMobil’s Corporate Strategic Research Laboratory, where he held various technical, strategic planning, and program management positions and led research collaborations with numerous vehicle manufacturers, universities, and national labs. He is a fellow of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International, holds a B.S. in chemistry from Purdue University, and a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of Colorado.

Research Interests

Chemistry and materials science

Fuels and combustion

Energy storage

Process engineering, simulation, and optimization

Sustainable aviation

Transportation decarbonization

Transportation and mobility research


Ph.D., Physical Chemistry, University of Colorado

B.S., Chemistry, Purdue University

Professional Experience

National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Laboratory Program Manager, Vehicle Technologies (2013–Present)

ExxonMobil Corporate Strategic Research Laboratory:

Section Head, Separations and Process Chemistry (2013)

Planning Advisor to the Vice President of R&D (2010–2013)

Section Head, Emerging Energy Sciences (2008–2010)

Section Head, Engineering and Process Chemistry (2006–2008)

Program Leader, Combustion Fundamentals (2001–2006)

Technical Staff, Combustion and Flame Laboratory (1998–2001)

Sandia National Laboratories, Combustion Research Facility, Postdoctoral Research Associate (1996–1998)

Ethyl Corporation, Senior R&D Chemist (1995–1996)

Featured Work

A Roadmap Toward a Sustainable Aviation Ecosystem, NREL Technical Report (2022)

Of Actors, Cities, and Energy Systems: Advancing the Transformative Potential of Urban Electrification, Progress in Energy (2021)

The Rise of Electric Vehicles—2020 Status and Future Expectations, Progress in Energy (2021)

R&D Insights for Extreme Fast Charging of Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicles, NREL Technical Report (2020)

Fuel Blendstocks with the Potential to Optimize Future Gasoline Engine Performance: Identification of Five Chemical Families for Detailed Evaluation, DOE Technical Report (2018)

Multi-Objective Optimization under Uncertainty of the Economic and Life‐Cycle Environmental Performance of Industrial Processes, AIChE Journal (2014)

A Dynamic Multi-Zone Partitioning Scheme for Solving Detailed Chemical Kinetics in Reactive Flow Computations, Combustion Science and Technology (2009)

The Use of Dynamic Adaptive Chemistry in Combustion Simulation of Gasoline Surrogate Fuels, Combustion and Flame (2009)

A Dynamic Adaptive Chemistry Scheme for Reactive Flow Computations, Proceedings of the Combustion Institute (2009)

Ethanol Oxidation: Kinetics of the α-Hydroxyethyl Radical + O2 Reaction, The Journal of Physical Chemistry (2009)

Awards and Honors

Distinguished Member of Research Staff, NREL (2021)

Fellow, SAE International (2019)

Annual Merit Review Award, DOE Vehicle Technologies Office (2019)

Harry L. Horning Memorial Award, Society of Automotive Engineers (2003)