Vehicle Thermal Management Facilities

NREL uses these research and evaluation facilities to develop energy-efficient vehicle thermal management technologies.

Vehicle Climate Control Laboratory

Image of combined fluid loops bench research apparatus.

Combined fluid loops bench research apparatus in the Vehicle Thermal Management Laboratory.
Photo by Daniel Leighton, NREL

The Vehicle Climate Control Laboratory consists of a thermal passenger compartment simulator fashioned from a passenger car. As the passenger cabin is exposed to simulated sunlight, external temperatures, humidity, and simulated windflow, its cabin interior is cooled using an air conditioning system and is monitored with sensors linked to a computerized data acquisition and control system. The cabin simulator enables rapid, repeatable, and realistic evaluation of advanced climate control concepts, making it possible to predict impacts on thermal comfort and heating, ventilating, and air conditioning loads.

Vehicle Thermal Management Laboratory

The Vehicle Thermal Management Laboratory features an apparatus to assess combined cooling loop concepts for electric drive vehicles. The apparatus consists of conditioned air loops for the evaporator and condenser, a compact refrigerant-to-liquid air conditioning system, and electric heaters to simulate heat generated by the energy storage and power electronic components. Models are used to simulate thermal characteristics of the passenger compartment, as well as the power electronics and energy storage systems.