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Friday, 19 August 2011

Low Emission Cars Under NREL's Microscope

National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
Aug 18, 2011

Cars that plug into solar panels for electricity or run on hydrogen may sound like something found only on the pages of science fiction novels, but engineers at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are driving these futuristic vehicles today.

Recently, NREL engineers were able to spend six weeks kicking the tires on a Kia Borrego Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) and ongoing agreements with Toyota and Mitsubishi mean a plug-in Prius and Mitsubishi i MiEV electric vehicle will be demonstrated and tested at NREL for the foreseeable future.

"DOE wants people to see that these vehicles are not just drawings on some designer's table," NREL Vehicle Systems Engineer Mike Simpson said. "These technologies are practical, real and getting out into the marketplace."

Simpson is leading a DOE/NREL program to acquire advanced technology vehicles to support research at NREL with a secondary goal of displaying and demonstrating the technologies to consumers. "We have displayed all of these vehicles at public events this summer to help consumers see how all of these technologies can meet the needs of today's drivers," Simpson said.

Vehicles in NREL's fleet feature promising technologies designed to increase efficiency, reduce emissions, and use renewable resources without sacrificing safety or comfort.

NREL engineers collect real-world data on these vehicles to evaluate their performance. The research findings are made available to vehicle manufacturers along with the DOE and other national laboratories. In addition to the Prius and i MiEV, NREL has evaluated a Mercedes-Benz A-Class F-Cell vehicle and is actively looking to expand.

"We are currently working with a number of manufacturers to bring more plug-in and fuel call vehicles to NREL," Simpson said. "We are bringing them in to support testing in areas unique to NREL like grid integration and thermal effects on comfort and batteries."


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