NREL's energy storage research spans a range of applications and technologies.
NREL's electrochemical storage research ranges from materials discovery and development to advanced electrode design, cell evaluation, system design and development, engendering analysis, and lifetime analysis of secondary batteries. We also research electrocatalysts, hydrogen production, and electrons to molecules for longer-term storage. NREL continues to explore refinements and new options, such as lithium-air, magnesium-ion, and solid-state technologies.
NREL is demonstrating high-performance, grid-integrated stationary battery technologies. Our researchers are exploring ways to integrate those technologies into a renewable energy grid, and NREL is developing more robust materials for batteries and thermal storage devices. In addition to grid storage, research activities in this area include behind-the-meter storage and the Salt River Project.
NREL is developing high-performance, cost-effective, and safe energy storage systems to power the next generation of electric-drive vehicles. Researchers evaluate electrical and thermal performance of battery cells, modules, and packs; full energy storage systems; and the interaction of these systems with other vehicle components. In addition, NREL provides a comprehensive review of battery safety that integrates multiscale, multidomain models with sophisticated experimental characterization capabilities to develop an extensive understanding of battery failure mechanisms, risks posed during failure, and the influence of cell design on failure mechanisms.
Through analysis of conventional and advanced pumped-hydropower storage, NREL is working to understand and improve grid flexibility, accommodate increased penetrations of variable generation, and reduce operating costs while boosting the grid’s resilience. Researchers are exploring hydropower’s role in grid integration, renewables integration, and emissions reduction. In addition, NREL is identifying pathways to commercialization for hydropower initiatives.
NREL researchers are advancing the viability of thermal energy storage as a building decarbonization resource for a highly renewable energy future. Thermal energy storage reduces energy consumption and increases load flexibility, thus promoting the use of renewable energy sources. At NREL, the thermal energy science research area focuses on the development, validation, and integration of thermal storage materials, components, and hybrid storage systems.
NREL conducts analysis, develops tools, and builds data resources to support the development of transformative, market-adaptable storage solutions for the future. Researchers provide analytical support related to energy storage in studies on decision-making and impacts at all scales, including automotive, distribution and transmission grid applications, storage system design and optimization, and component development.
As batteries proliferate in electric vehicles, stationary storage, and other uses, NREL is exploring ways to reduce the amount of critical materials they require and increase the lifetime value of battery materials—including repurposing for a second application and recycling materials.