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Fuels and Combustion Research

NREL's research on fuels and combustion spans from individual molecules to vehicle-scale fuel economy and emissions performance.

We explore the chemical basis of how biofuels, advanced petroleum-based fuels, fuel blends, propane, and natural gas perform in engines and vehicles for ground transportation. Our R&D also involves fuel pumps, storage tanks, and distribution systems.

Cutting-Edge Research and Development

We provide the scientific building blocks needed to spur innovation through fundamental fuels and combustion research and engineering.


NREL researchers publish journal articles, conference papers, and reports about fuels and combustion R&D.  

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Fuel Chemical Properties Data and Analysis

Our analytical and data science prowess plays a vital role in accelerating the pace of fuels and combustion research advancements.

Featured Data


High-resolution gas chromatogram showing the components of petroleum refinery gasoline.

To learn more about this gas chromatogram, see our detailed hydrocarbon analysis of gasoline properties.

Co-Optimization of Fuels & Engines: Fuels Properties Database

Features a compilation of properties for various blend stock candidates, including pure compounds.

Access database

Vehicle Fuel Efficiency and Performance

NREL and its industry partners focus on the intersection of fuel chemistry, combustion, and emissions to answer two primary questions:

  1. How can improved fuel chemistry lead to more efficient engine performance?
  2. How can better engine design most effectively leverage fuel properties?

Transportation Fuels Innovation for the Future

NREL's advances in fuel formulation, combustion strategy, and engine design will help put more fuel-efficient vehicles on the road.

Ultimately, it will help displace oil consumption, decrease greenhouse gas emissions, and improve the nation's energy security requires simultaneous advances in fuel formulation, combustion strategy, and engine design.

Man at a fuel pump filling a garbage truck with compressed natural gas fuel.


To learn more about our work or explore partnership opportunities, contact Matt Thornton