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2017 Year in Review

This is the January 2018 issue of the Transportation and Hydrogen Newsletter.

January 24, 2018

Fiscal Year 2017 was packed with awards, milestones, program developments, and increased integration and collaboration. NREL’s Transportation and Hydrogen Systems Center continued to build a strong foundation to advance high-performance, low-emission, energy-efficient strategies for passenger and freight transportation.

Illustration of vehicles with lines showing information transfer

Sustainable Mobility Leadership Continues to Grow

NREL continued to blaze a trail for sustainable mobility, with Chris Gearhart’s appointment as chair of a multi-lab consortium focused on innovations in connectivity, automation, multi-modal systems, behavioral science, urban science, vehicles, and infrastructure. On the home front, NREL announced plans to add an autonomous shuttle to its fleet, with related research in advanced charging and energy storage strategies.

Photo of a researcher working with a plug flow reactor in a lab

Research Links Fuels & Engines Innovation to Maximize Efficiency & Performance

The NREL-led Co-Optimization of Fuels & Engines (Co-Optima) initiative shifted into high gear, as collaboration among national lab and university partners netted valuable new insights into the relationship between fuel properties and chemical families and their ultimate impact on spark-ignition engine efficiency. The lab’s research also led to establishment of a new ASTM high-octane test fuel standard, a crucial step toward ensuring that commercially-available gasoline products will be compatible with high-performance fuel-efficient engines. These developments are emblematic of the lab's simultaneous exploration of advances in fuel formulation, combustion strategy, and engine design.

Photo of the hydrogen-powered Chevrolet Colorado ZH2

Benefits of Hydrogen Technology Continue to Rise

NREL’s hydrogen team celebrated National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day—held annually on October 8 to represent the atomic weight of hydrogen, 1.008—by recognizing several hydrogen and fuel cell research impacts. Researchers established the world record for solar hydrogen production, provided hydrogen for field testing of the U.S. Army's Chevy Colorado ZH2, and acted as the independent validator for a $1M H-Prize Competition. In addition, an R&D Magazine article highlighted ways NREL is demonstrating and advancing hydrogen technologies in support of the H2@Scale initiative.

Photo of a researcher works with a plug flow reactor in a lab

Battery Internal Short Circuit Device Sweeps Awards Around the Globe

NREL's patented Battery Internal Short Circuit (ISC) Device allows researchers to simulate true internal short circuits, study the causes of thermal runaway, and improve the safety and performance of batteries used in electric vehicles. The R&D 100 Award-winning device is earning additional accolades and acclaim across the globe, including NASA’s Government Invention of the Year First Runner-Up and the UK’s prestigious Collaborate to Innovate top prize in the category of Safety and Security. This video gives and overview of the technology.

Photo of a compressed natural gas fuel tank located in the bed of a pickup truck that was converted from gasoline to CNG

First-of-its-Kind Guidance for Natural Gas Vehicle Maintenance Facilities

Historically, natural gas vehicles have an impressive safety record—in large part due to the stringent industry codes and standards that govern use of the fuel. However, existing safety information can be difficult for fleets to locate and decipher. To combat this, and ensure the safety of people working on CNG vehicles, NREL worked with industry to publish the Compressed Natural Gas Vehicle Maintenance Facility Modifications Handbook and produce and accompanying webinar.

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Researchers Rack Up Industry and Government Awards

Chief Energy Storage Engineer Ahmad Pesaran and Bob McCormick of the Advanced Biofuels team were each elected to the distinction of SAE Fellow from SAE International. Pesaran was also honored with a DOE EERE Outstanding Impact Award as part of a VTO Battery team for the successful development of the ground-breaking electric vehicle Extreme Fast Charging R&D Gap Assessment Research Roadmap. Vehicle Electrification Group Manager Matt Keyser received a VTO Distinguished Achievement Award for his technical leadership in support of DOE’s Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Battery R&D Program.

Learn more about NREL's Transportation R&D including Hydrogen and Fuel Cells, as well as partnership opportunities.