The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) focuses on creative answers to today's energy challenges. From breakthroughs in fundamental science to new clean technologies to integrated energy systems that power our lives, NREL researchers are transforming the way the nation and the world use energy.
Learn more about individual user facilities below or visit the NREL home page here.
The Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) houses an unparalleled collection of state-of-the-art capabilities to study clean energy technologies at all scales—from developing and validating individual appliances or components to running megawatt-sized grid simulations.
The ESIF is the nation’s first research facility that can conduct megawatt-scale research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) of the components and strategies needed to safely integrate clean energy technologies into the electrical grid and utility operations, at the speed and scale required to meet national goals. Through a combination of RD&D tools and approaches, the ESIF allows researchers, entrepreneurs, utilities, and other stakeholders the ability to identify and resolve the technical, operational, and financial risks of large-scale integration of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.
The ESIF is also home to Peregrine—the largest high performance computer (HPC) in the world exclusively dedicated to advancing renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. On an annual basis, the HPC system can deliver approximately 12 million node-hours of computational capacity that can be used for EERE-funded programs or mission-related work, or for collaborative projects with a growing user community. Designated as an official U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) user facility, ESIF’s scientific capabilities—researchers, instruments and facilities—are available for use by the global research community. Through its user access program, the ESIF allows researchers access to its premier laboratories in support of research and development that aims to optimize our entire energy system at full power.
Requests for access to the ESIF are accepted on an ongoing basis, depending on availability. Various types of solicitations for proposals are also posted throughout the year.
NREL's Fuel Combustion Laboratory at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) focuses on characterizing fuels at the molecular level. This information can then be used to understand and predict a fuel's effect on engine performance and emissions. By understanding the effects of fuel chemistry on ignition, as well as the potential emissions impacts, we can develop fuels that enable more efficient engine designs, using both today's technology and future advanced combustion concepts.
The 10-kilowatt High-Flux Solar Furnace (HFSF) at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has been in operation since 1990 and consists of a tracking heliostat and 25 hexagonal, slightly concave mirrors to concentrate solar radiation. The solar furnace can quickly generate up to 1,800 °C over a 1-cm2 area—and up to 3,000 °C with specialized secondary optics to generate concentrations greater than 20,000 suns. Flux levels and distributions can also be tailored to the needs of a particular research activity.
The HFSF test building is equipped with computers and data acquisition tools, video monitors of the outside equipment, sophisticated instruments to monitor solar radiation, and automated devices that enable researchers to control and measure the power of the concentrated sunlight.
The operational characteristics and size of the facility make it ideal for testing over a wide range of technologies with a diverse set of experimental requirements:
- The high-heating rates create the perfect tool for testing high-temperature materials, coatings on metals and ceramics, and other materials-related applications. The power generated can be used to evaluate many components—such as receivers, collectors, and reflector materials—used in CSP systems.
- The facility can provide a platform for testing prototype advanced converters and chemical reactors for solar-electric and solar-chemistry applications. Researchers can also use the HFSF to evaluate and develop state-of-the-art measurement systems for the extreme solar environment.
- The HFSF facility can determine secondary concentrator requirements and configuration by using SolTrace modeling. If modeling shows a requirement for a special secondary concentrator, NREL can be instrumental in designing and integrating this concentrator into the HFSF test area. For more information on SolTrace modeling, contact Tim Wendelin.
- The HFSF facility also includes an ultra-accelerated weathering system (UAWS) for testing of outdoor materials. UAWS provides up to 100× ultraviolet concentration to accelerate aging of materials used outdoors. For more information on UAWS, contact Robert Tirawat.
For more information regarding the HFSF, please contact:
NREL's Integrated Biorefinery Research Facility (IBRF) at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) enables researchers and industry partners to develop, test, evaluate, and demonstrate processes and technologies for the production of bio-based products and fuels.
The IBRF is designed with the following capabilities:
- Versatility in handling a wide range of biomass feedstocks and pretreatment processes;
- Ability to accommodate and incorporate equipment from partners or third-parties into end-to-end process integration and evaluation tests;
- High-quality process performance data generation supported by automated data acquisition and process control systems along with world-class chemical analysis;
- Expertise to integrate multiple technologies for pilot-scale testing and process validation;
- Experience developing intellectual property and helping industrial partners commercialize technologies.
The IBRF is home to the following testing facilities:
- The 27,000-ft2, high-bay biochemical conversion pilot plant, which accommodates bench-to-pilot-scale processes for converting cellulosic biomass into a variety of fuels and chemicals at process throughputs of up to one ton of dry biomass per day;
- The compositional analysis labs, which in addition to producing comprehensive biomass analysis results and standard biomass laboratory procedures, can also customize analytical methods for new sample types;
- And the fuel testing laboratories, where process performance data generated in the IBRF can be incorporated into techno-economic and life-cycle analysis models to estimate market feasibility, cost sensitivities, and environmental sustainability attributes of commercial-scale production.
For more information on the IBRF, please contact:
Partnership and Business Development
The Renewable Fuels and Lubricants (ReFUEL) Laboratory at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is a state-of-the-art research and testing facility for advanced fuels and vehicles. Research and development aims to improve efficiency of conventional gasoline-powered vehicles and overcome barriers to the increased use of renewable diesel and other nonpetroleum-based fuels, such as biodiesel and synthetic diesel derived from biomass.
The ReFUEL Laboratory features a chassis dynamometer for vehicle performance and emissions research, two engine dynamometer test cells for advanced fuels research, and precise emissions analysis equipment. As a complement to these capabilities, detailed studies of fuel properties, with a focus on ignition characteristics, are performed at NREL’s Fuel Chemistry Laboratory. Because the ReFUEL Laboratory is located in Denver, Colorado, it offers the additional capability of testing emissions and vehicle performance at high altitude. It also features an altitude simulation system to mimic results found at lower altitudes, including sea level.
The ReFUEL Laboratory is one of the few facilities in the United States with a chassis dynamometer that operates with laboratory-grade emissions analysis equipment. The dynamometer is supported by 72 data acquisition channels along with fuel metering and combustion analysis subsystems. It can test the performance and emissions of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles—from small trucks and delivery vans to full-size buses and Class 8 tractors.
For more information regarding the ReFUEL Laboratory, please contact:
The Thermal Test Facility (TTF) at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) focuses on energy management of the built environment. Through analysis of efficient heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) strategies, automated home energy management (AHEM), and energy storage systems, scientists uncover solutions for cost-effectively reducing the nation’s electric demand and energy consumption, expanding the use of renewable electricity to transportation, and enhancing the reliability and stability of the power grid. TTF researchers also study substitutes for high-global-warming-potential (High GWP) refrigerants, improving the health and durability of buildings, effectively using available solar resources, and improving the performance of electric vehicle energy storage components and systems. The Thermal Test Facility is home to the following laboratories:
- The Advanced HVAC Laboratory enables rapid, accurate and robust measurement of space conditioning equipment, from bath fan size up to 10-tons;
- The Automated Home Energy Management Laboratory provides flexible test bed for device, whole-house, and grid-level strategies;
- The Hot Water Systems Laboratory provides gas, electric, and solar hot water evaluation;
- The Energy Storage Laboratory is home to the world’s most accurate battery calorimeters of their kind, thermal imaging, battery testers, and environmental chambers, with controlled duty cycling at every step.
The Thermochemical Users Facility (TCUF) at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has state-of-the-art equipment for thermochemical process development and testing, ranging from catalyst and feedstock characterizations to bench-scale reactors to pilot plants. We welcome partners who wish to collaborate on research and development efforts or to use our equipment to test their materials and processes.