Observing the world of renewable energy and sustainable living

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Youtube text: Welcome to NREL! The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency. NREL’s work focuses on advancing renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies from concept to the commercial marketplace through industry partnerships.

Here is a selection of the videos from the NREL youtube channel.

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The demand for clean, sustainable, secure energy is growing… and the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is answering the call. NREL’s National bioenergy Center is pioneering biofuels research and development and accelerating the pace these technologies move into the marketplace.

The research and development taking place today at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is paving the way for nature’s most plentiful element—hydrogen—to power the next generation. NREL researchers are working to unlock the potential of hydrogen and to advance the fuel cell technologies that will power the automobiles, equipment, and buildings of tomorrow. Hydrogen and fuel cells are a fundamental part of the broader portfolio of renewable technologies that are moving our nation toward its goals of energy independence and sustainability.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is advancing the technologies that will drive our next-generation cars and trucks along with the batteries that power our electric vehicles. NREL’s large-volume battery calorimeter is the world’s only test chamber large enough to measure the heat generated by these advanced-vehicle batteries — with exceptional precision and the team working on it were recently recipients of the 2012 CO-LABS Governor’s Award for High-Impact Research.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) recently received a Borrego fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) on loan from Kia for display at a variety of summer events. The Borrego is fueled using renewable hydrogen that is produced and dispensed at NREL’s National Wind Technology Center near Boulder, Colorado. The hydrogen dispensed at the station is produced via renewable electrolysis as part of the wind-to-hydrogen project, which uses wind turbines and photovoltaic arrays to power electrolyzer stacks that split water into hydrogen and oxygen. The FCEV features state-of-the-art technology with zero harmful emissions.

Prospecting for elusive fast-growing, oily microalgae is a soggy, muddy, rewarding job for NREL researcher Lee Elliott. Not only do algae grow in unlikely settings, but their ability to convert the light they receive into biomass has the potential to outperform that of land plants. Trees, grasses and shrubs typically are not very efficient in capturing and converting the sun’s energy into biomass, but some algae are believed to be capable of much higher efficiencies, with some scientists thinking ideal strains may be able to approach the maximum theoretical photosynthetic efficiency under the right conditions.

Scientists at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) share their story about a successful partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Ampulse Corporation and how support from the US Department of Energy’s Technology Commercialization & Deployment Fund has helped it and their silicon solar cell research thrive.

Unlike other renewable energy sources, biomass can be converted directly into liquid fuels, called “biofuels,” to help meet transportation fuel needs. The two most common types of biofuels are ethanol and biodiesel. Today, ethanol is made from starches and sugars, but at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) scientists are developing technology to allow it to be made from cellulose and hemicellulose, the fibrous material that makes up the bulk of most plant matter. Biodiesel is made by combining alcohol (usually methanol) with vegetable oil, animal fat, or recycled cooking grease. It can be used as an additive (typically 20%) to reduce vehicle emissions or in its pure form as a renewable alternative fuel for diesel engines.

It is a pure, plentiful natural resource. Right now wind is in high demand and it holds the potential to transform the way we power our homes and businesses. NREL is at the forefront of wind energy research and development. NREL’s National Wind Technology Center (NWTC) is a world-class facility dedicated to accelerating and deploying wind technology.

We can improve the fuel economy of our cars, trucks, and buses by designing them to use the energy in fuels more efficiently. Researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are helping the nation achieve these goals by developing transportation technologies like: advanced vehicle systems and components; alternative fuels; as well as fuel cells, hybrid electric, and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

Technology — from sophisticated computer modeling to advanced windows that actually open — will help the newest building at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) be one of the world’s most energy efficient offices. Scheduled to open this summer, the 222,000 square-foot RSF will house more than 800 staff and an energy efficient information technology data center. Because 19 percent of the country’s energy is used by commercial buildings, DOE plans to make this facility a showcase for energy efficiency. DOE hopes the design of the RSF will be replicated by the building industry and help reduce the nation’s energy consumption by changing the way commercial buildings are designed and built.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Siemens Energy Inc. recently commissioned a new 2.3 megawatt Siemens wind turbine at NREL’s National Wind Technology Center. This video shows a time lapse of the installation. The turbine is the centerpiece of a multi-year project to study the performance and aerodynamics of a new class of large, land-based machines — in what will be the biggest government-industry research partnership for wind power generation ever undertaken in the U.S.

Solar cells, also called photovoltaics (PV) by solar cell scientists, convert sunlight directly into electricity. Solar cells are often used to power calculators and watches. The performance of a solar cell is measured in terms of its efficiency at turning sunlight into electricity. Only sunlight of certain energies will work efficiently to create electricity, and much of it is reflected or absorbed by the material that make up the cell. Because of this, a typical commercial solar cell has an efficiency of 15%—about one-sixth of the sunlight striking the cell generates electricity. Low efficiencies mean that larger arrays are needed, and that means higher cost. Improving solar cell efficiencies while holding down the cost per cell is an important goal of the PV industry, researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and other U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) laboratories, and they have made significant progress. The first solar cells, built in the 1950s, had efficiencies of less than 4%.

Through research, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has developed many strategies and design techniques to ensure both commercial and residential buildings use as little energy as possible and also work well with the surroundings. Here you will find a video that introduces the work of NREL Buildings Research, highlights some of the facilities on the NREL campus, and demonstrates these efficient building strategies. Watch this video to see design highlights of the Science and Technology Facility on the NREL campus—the first Federal building to be LEED® Platinum certified. Additionally, the video demonstrates the energy-saving features of NRELs Thermal Test Facility.


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