Nelson James

Nelson James

Researcher III-Mechanical Engineering

Nelson joined NREL's Building Energy Science group in 2020. His work focuses on the advancement of thermal energy storage systems and high efficiency grid-interactive HVAC technologies.

Before joining NREL, Nelson was an Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) Science and Technology Policy Fellow at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Building Technologies Office, supporting the Emerging Technologies Program. There he focused on advancing the Office’s research efforts on thermal energy storage, grid-interactive efficient buildings, and energy resilience in buildings. His Ph.D. research focused on not-in-kind heat pumping technologies, where he developed novel systems employing electrochemical processes in thermal cycles. He has expertise in the computational and experimental design and analysis of thermal systems and components for building applications.

Research Interests

Design of thermal systems

Thermal energy storage materials and systems

Thermal and moisture management in buildings

Decarbonization in the built environment


Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering, Purdue University

M.S., Mechanical Engineering, Purdue University

B.S., Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University

Featured Work

Humidity’s impact on greenhouse gas emissions from air conditioning, Joule (2022)

Addressing energy storage needs at lower cost via on-site thermal energy storage in buildingsEnergy & Environmental Science (2021)

2021 Thermal Energy Storage Systems for Buildings Workshop: Priorities and pathways to widespread deployment of thermal energy storage in buildings, EERE Technical Report (2021)

2019 Workshop on Fundamental Needs for Dynamic and Interactive Thermal Storage Solutions for Buildings, NREL Technical Report (2020)

The chemical looping heat pump: Thermodynamic modeling, International Journal of Refrigeration (2019)