News & Announcements

We do so many things here at Nexus – scroll for more about the things we have done and the things we want to do. From classes to seminars, workshops and funding opportunities, read on to learn more about our work.

 

JISEA Celebrates a Decade of Energy System Transformation Through Analysis

March 25, 2020

In 2010, NREL leaders decided to launch the Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis (JISEA)—a partnership between NREL and academia—to look beyond individual technologies and consider the bigger picture of how to develop and deploy renewables in an energy economy.

“This energy transition isn’t monolithic,” said Jill Engel-Cox, JISEA’s current director. “Each country has its own set of natural and human resources, energy needs, and social preferences, so every clean energy solution will be unique.”

Brought to us by the NREL communications team. Read more on Nancy’s accomplishments on the NREL website here. If you are a member of the media and wish to learn more, please contact David Glickson at 303-275-4097 or email David.Glickson@nrel.gov.

What's Next?

The faculty and staff at Nexus are working to provide activities during the Covid-19 pandemic. If you are interested in any of the activities below, please click the links for more information.

In the Recent Past. . .

Below are activities and events that may be of interest to you. To find out more information, click the title of the event to activate the toggle.

4D STEM-in-SEM: developing scanning electron diffraction measurements for the scanning electron microscope by Ben Caplins, National Institute of Standards and Technology

Held on April 14, 2020

Historically, the scanning electron microscope (SEM) has been used to study the surfaces of materials, and the transmission electron microscope (TEM) has been used to study the “internal” structure of materials. A driving cause for this difference is that the mean free path for electrons at SEM beam energies (≤30 keV) is much shorter than that for TEM beam energies (≥80 keV). In effect, the incident electrons in an SEM cannot pass through conventional SEM samples, and therefore most of the generated signals pertain to the surface region. In contrast, the incident electrons in the TEM can pass through samples and generate useful through thickness information on the material structure and defects. The transmission SEM project at NIST serves to challenge these historical roles by expanding the measurement modes in an SEM to include numerous transmission modes. Some of these modes are of particular relevance for 2-dimensional materials and nanomaterials where the short mean free path for electrons typical of SEM energies can be highly beneficial. In this presentation, some of our efforts to realize a scanning electron diffraction measurement known as 4D STEM-in-SEM will be presented. As the archetypal 2-dimensional material that can be challenging to analyze structurally, graphene films are used to demonstrate the technique. We will describe the some of the signals obtained in transmission mode, how to experimentally capture them, and discuss some of the analysis methods possible with the generated 4D dataset.

NREL News Releases

Below find news releases from our partners at NREL.

Research Determines Financial Benefit from Driving Electric Vehicles
Over a 15-Year Life, EVs Can Save Thousands of Dollars in Fuel Costs Compared to Gasoline Vehicles

June 22, 2020

Motorists can save as much as $14,500 on fuel costs over 15 years by driving an electric vehicle instead of a similar one fueled by gasoline, according to a new analysis conducted by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Idaho National Laboratory (INL).

Previous studies assumed a singular value for the cost to charge an electric vehicle (EV), but this new work provides an unprecedented state-level assessment of the cost of EV charging that considers when, where, and how a vehicle is charged, and considers thousands of electricity retail tariffs and real-world charging equipment and installation costs. The cost of charging is compared against the price of gasoline to estimate total fuel cost savings over a vehicle’s lifetime.

“Finding out the purchase price of a vehicle is relatively simple, but the savings related to fuel aren’t readily available, especially since electricity cost varies greatly for different locations and charging options,” said Matteo Muratori, a senior systems engineer at NREL and co-author of the article, “Levelized Cost of Charging Electric Vehicles in the United States.” The research appears in Joule and is led by Brennan Borlaug from NREL and co-authored by Shawn Salisbury and Mindy Gerdes from INL.

The researchers developed a baseline scenario based on current vehicle use and charging behavior to estimate the average levelized cost of charging (LCOC) for electric vehicles.

The cost to charge an EV varies widely. The key factors include differences in the price of electricity, the types of equipment used (slow or fast charging), the cost of installation, and vehicle use (miles driven). The national average cost to charge a battery EV ranges from 8 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to 27 cents, with an average of 15 cents. That corresponds to an average lifetime fuel cost savings of $3,000 to $10,500.

In addition to this variation, considering state-by-state differences can push savings to $14,500 (in Washington state) or, in the case of four states (Alabama, Hawaii, Mississippi, and Tennessee), fail to provide any savings when compared to a conventional gasoline vehicle under certain scenarios. The researchers examined vehicles of the same class and size and driven the same number of miles a year.

In calculating costs, the researchers also considered the nature of the charging stations. For a slow charge, a motorist can use a traditional outlet at home without any special equipment. Upgrading to a higher-powered residential charger costs about $1,800, including installation. But charging at home can be done at night when electricity prices are currently at their lowest, which is considered the best-case scenario from a cost perspective.

The average cost of 15 cents per kWh assumes 81% of charging was done at home, 14% at the workplace or public station, and 5% with a DC fast charger (DCFC), in line with current empirical data. Exclusively charging at DCFC stations increases the national LCOC to 18 cents per kWh, while the price falls to 11 cents per kWh for motorists who only charged their EV using a dedicated household outlet. The cost can be further reduced to 8 cents by charging during off-peak periods.

This research is funded by the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Office.

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy’s primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for the Energy Department by The Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.

Media may contact:
Wayne Hicks
303-275-4051
wayne.hicks@nrel.gov

Waves to Water Prize Announces DESIGN Winners and Selects Jennette’s Pier for Competition Finale
North Carolina Facility Will Host DRINK Stage Through Coastal Studies Institute Partnership

June 9, 2020

Barrier island or remote location? Sandy bottom? Shallow-wave conditions? When designing a wave-powered desalination device, location and environmental conditions matter.

This week, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) announced the winners for the DESIGN Stage and the location for the final DRINK Stage of the American-Made Challenges Waves to Water Prize: Jennette’s Pier on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

“The wave conditions for a specific location, such as the wave period and wave height, are crucial to optimize a wave-energy powered system,” said Scott Jenne, NREL principal investigator for the Waves to Water Prize. “With the announcement of Jennette’s Pier, teams now know what kind of environment they’re designing for and can improve their systems accordingly.”

NREL, which manages the Waves to Water Prize, awarded the 17 winning DESIGN Stage teams each $47,000 for demonstrating their systems’ technical capability and plans to build a functional proof-of-concept desalination system. These teams are now preparing to validate their systems in the open ocean at Jennette’s Pier.

Both the DESIGN Stage winners and new teams can participate in the ADAPT Stage, the third stage in the competition. The ADAPT stage allows teams to continue their computer-based modeling work, tweaking system designs to account for the wave conditions at Jennette’s Pier from their homes.

Competitors will return to the lab for the fourth stage, CREATE, which will launch in February 2021 and run through September 2021. In this stage, contestants will build a functional prototype or proof-of-concept of their system and develop a plan to build and deliver their technology for testing at Jennette’s Pier during the final DRINK stage, scheduled for spring 2022. The prize competition finale is the result of a partnership between NREL, DOE, and the Coastal Studies Institute (CSI) of the University of North Carolina system.

Waves to Water Prize: Accelerating Wave-Powered Desalination Innovation

The Waves to Water Prize is a five-stage, $3.3-million contest seeking to accelerate the development of small, modular, wave-powered desalination systems capable of providing clean water in disaster and recovery scenarios, as well as in water-scarce coastal and island locations.

Wave energy-powered desalination systems could help address coastal challenges such as resilience, disaster recovery, and water scarcity, especially if systems are competitive in price, water production, and reliability when compared to conventional alternatives.

Through this prize, DOE seeks to accelerate innovation in both wave energy devices and desalination systems and incentivize the development of interdisciplinary approaches to integrating wave power and desalination. The Waves to Water Prize convenes America’s world-class research base with an unparalleled entrepreneurial support system to create a portfolio of innovations primed for private investment and commercial scale-up.

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy’s primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for the Energy Department by The Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.

Media may contact:
David Glickson
303-275-4097
David.Glickson@nrel.gov

NREL, CCHRC Combine Forces to Increase Impact, Research in Arctic Region
Collaboration Adds 20+ Years of Experience to NREL’s Portfolio, Opens Extreme Climate Opportunities

June 8, 2020

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has taken a big step toward growing its mission space and impact through an expanded collaboration with Alaska’s Cold Climate Housing Research Center (CCHRC).

Based in Fairbanks, Alaska, where temperatures swing throughout the year from minus 50 degrees to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, CCHRC has 20 years of experience designing energy efficient, healthy, culturally appropriate homes in some of the harshest conditions on Earth. Through the collaboration, the CCHRC staff will become NREL employees, creating new opportunities to access extreme climates and leverage CCHRC’s extensive research. NREL and CCHRC share complementary research capabilities, including whole-building energy use, building energy system integration, health and indoor air quality, as well as energy technology design and deployment in extreme and rural environments.

NREL expects demand for this type of research to grow in the coming years, and this collaboration will keep NREL’s research agenda on the forefront of energy science and expand DOE’s return on investment.

NREL’s 10-year strategy includes a focus on Integrated Energy Pathways, an expanding research area that guides solutions to enable the efficient and reliable operation of our future energy system. The Arctic environment, with its high cost of energy in remote communities and challenging climates, provides a strategic platform for NREL’s research into renewable power, sustainable transportation, energy efficiency, and energy systems integration.

“Alliances such as this allow NREL to accomplish more by combining our strengths than what would have been achieved separately and will help to further our work with existing partners as well as increase impact for the Department of Energy,” said NREL Director Dr. Martin Keller.

Like NREL, CCHRC operates as a “living laboratory,” with a campus that includes their LEED Platinum-certified Research and Testing Facility. CCHRC brings world-class Arctic experts and the success of more than 35 collaborations across government, academia, and industry that span the circumpolar Arctic. CCHRC’s mission of “promoting and advancing the development of healthy, durable, and sustainable shelter for Alaskans and other Circumpolar people” is complementary to NREL’s research priorities.

Beyond obvious opportunities in the building-design space, many other NREL research programs stand to benefit from this new collaboration. NREL’s expertise in analysis and decision science can help address challenges associated with remote supply chains and improve the life-cycle performance and affordability of buildings.

Efforts toward DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Advanced Research on Integrated Energy Systems initiative also amplify the collaboration.

“The expanded collaboration between the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Cold Climate Housing Research Center will allow us to test the resiliency and reliability of energy efficient and renewable energy technologies in extreme weather conditions,” said Daniel R. Simmons, Assistant Secretary for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “These enhanced capabilities will allow us to bring scalable, sustainable, and affordable energy solutions to communities in Alaska and the circumpolar region and across the United States.”

While the collaboration adds decades of extreme-climate experience and established circumpolar relationships to NREL’s portfolio, it is not NREL’s first foray into Alaska. NREL is already engaged with several activities and partners extensively across the state. Researchers from NREL have been providing technical assistance to Alaska Native villages and corporations through DOE’s Office of Indian Energy. NREL’s other efforts in the region include work on remote microgrid design and high-renewable contribution grids through the Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium and Alaska Microgrid Program, as well as support of the Alaska Energy Authority, Solarize Alaska, and Launch Alaska’s Energy-Water-Food-Transportation Innovation incubator.

This collaboration provides a boost to these and other regional initiatives in which NREL participates by placing boots on the ground in the region. Alaska-based staff can strengthen relationships in the region, expand networks, and more quickly identify and respond to emerging research needs.

Visit the CCHRC website to learn more about their innovative buildings design and research.

Learn more about NREL’s buildings research program.

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy’s primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for the Energy Department by The Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.

Blockchain: Not Just for Bitcoin
 

May 14, 2020

A common vision for the future of the nation’s energy grid involves homeowners selling unused power generated from rooftop solar panels to others in their communities, and working together to help ensure the reliability, resiliency, and security of the power grid everyone uses.

Sounds great in theory. But how can the grid manage such complex energy transactions at scale?

Several emerging solutions to this opportunity rely on blockchain technology. Researchers at NREL are evaluating the use of blockchain for transactive energy using hardware in the laboratory’s Energy Systems Integration Facility and it may reshape the world of electric systems operation.

Full story…

Media may contact:
Wayne Hicks
303-275-4051
Wayne.Hicks@nrel.gov

Best in Show—Cleantech Innovators Announced at 2020 Virtual Industry Growth Forum

May 1, 2020

Today, the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) recognized three top cleantech innovators as it wrapped up the 25th anniversary edition of the NREL Industry Growth Forum (IGF). This year’s IGF was an all-virtual event held at a time when innovation in all forms is a national priority.
The winners were selected from a field of 40 companies that pitched their cleantech innovations to a panel of judges made up of investors and industry experts. Earlier this year, those companies had been selected from a field of more than 150 companies that had applied to present.

“The companies awarded today and all who presented this year are creating clean and sustainable technologies at a very challenging time,” said NREL Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center Director Richard Adams. “In addition to their brilliant technologies, we are compelled to recognize their spirit and dedication. Now, more than ever, innovation is required.”

Online and On Point

The Industry Growth Forum, held April 29-30, annually convenes cleantech entrepreneurs, investors, and industry experts to build relationships, showcase innovative technologies, and explore disruptive business solutions. In addition to the cleantech innovation pitch competition, it features one-on-one meetings between entrepreneurs and investors. This year’s IGF pivoted to an online format and brought along an ecosystem of support.

“We were very pleasantly surprised,” said IGF Project Manager Sheila Ebbitt. “We had more than 500 attendees for our two-day virtual event including entrepreneurs, investors, sponsors, and industry experts. The cleantech ecosystem is pulling together, and this was a strong show of support.”

This year’s award winners:Ladera Tech received the 2020 Best Venture Award. The Englewood, Colorado, company has developed environmentally friendly and long-lasting fire prevention products that can replace existing foams, gels, and other hazardous fire retardants.

cove.tool, based in Atlanta, won an Outstanding Venture Award for its machine learning technology that improves data analyses with every run and ultimately allows architects, engineers, contractors, and developers to make buildings more energy efficient while reducing costs.

Locus Agricultural Solutions, headquartered in Solon, Ohio, won an Outstanding Venture Award for its probiotics and delivery system that boost agricultural yields and carbon sequestration while reducing costs and environmental impacts.

For a list of participating companies and sponsors, and for more information on the Industry Growth Forum, visit us online at www.nrelforum.com.

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy’s primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for the Energy Department by The Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.

Media may contact:
David Glickson
303-275-4097
David.Glickson@nrel.gov

If you are a member of the media and wish to learn more, please contact David Glickson at 303-275-4097 or email David.Glickson@nrel.gov.

NREL Helps Found Consortium to Boost Solar Perovskite Commercialization

April 29, 2020

Working with leading domestic solar companies, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the Washington Clean Energy Testbeds at the University of Washington, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the University of Toledo have formed the U.S. Manufacturing of Advanced Perovskites Consortium (US-MAP), which will work to accelerate commercialization of perovskite technologies.

Perovskite solar cells are a type of thin-film solar cell that have proven to be highly efficient at harnessing sunlight to generate electricity. Perovskites have shown tremendous promise in a range of other technologies, including solid-state lighting, advanced radiation detection, dynamic sensing and actuation, photo-catalysis, and quantum information science. Early investments by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Office and its Office of Science into perovskite research have enabled the United States to engage at the forefront of many of these technology areas and fostered a vibrant community of domestic industrial leaders.

“Perovskites have the potential to become a game-changer for solar and many other fields,” said Martin Keller, director of NREL. “By combining our research efforts, this new consortium will bring this technology to market sooner than if we were all operating alone.”

While perovskite cells have shown promise in the lab, more work remains to be done to ensure that the technology is ready for commercial success. Manufacturing, durability, and sustainability remain challenges and will be the consortium’s research focus. Members of US-MAP will share research and development, validation, and pilot manufacturing, which will reduce development costs and technology risks for potential investors.

US-MAP has six major U.S.-based industry players as founding members: BlueDot Photonics, Energy Materials Corporation, First Solar, Hunt Perovskites Technologies, Swift Solar, and Tandem PV. Representatives from each of these companies, as well as new U.S. startups and other established companies, will form an industry advisory board that will inform and guide the efforts performed at the research institutions. The founding organizers (NREL, Washington Clean Energy Testbeds, UNC-Chapel Hill, and the University of Toledo) will form the executive board that will oversee delivery on projects.

The organizers and members of US-MAP have already begun expanding this network to include the University of Colorado at Boulder and the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

The founding organizers of the US-MAP consortium will explore funding from a variety of sources including industrial members and the federal government. Leadership of the consortium will be provided at NREL by Joseph J. Berry and Jao van de Lagemaat, who will work with the key points of contact of the other founding organizers and industrial advisory board.

“Forming this collective will enable innovation in the U.S. that will strengthen our position in these important materials and associated technologies,” said Berry, the consortium director, senior scientist, and perovskite team lead for NREL.

For more information about US-MAP, visit www.nrel.gov/research/us-map.html
If you are a member of the media and wish to learn more, please contact David Glickson at 303-275-4097 or email David.Glickson@nrel.gov.

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NREL Monthly News Email Digest

Subscribe to this informational newsletter from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Headlines from this month’s issue included:

  • Greening Industry: Building Recyclable, Next-Generation Turbine Blades
  • NREL Solar Cell Sets Two World Records
  • Automated Test Bed for Residential Battery Systems
  • Global ‘Fashion for Good’ Picks Pienkos

Colorado Energy Research Collaboratory (CERC)

Since 2007, the University of Colorado at Boulder, Colorado State University, and Colorado School of Mines and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory have
worked together on innovations and solutions
involving research surrounding the full spectrum of
energy sources, while partnering with their supply
chains, industry & research partners. The 9th Annual meeting has been rescheduled for May 4-5, 2021 with the title 21st Century Energy Transition Symposium. In addition to their annual meeting, the Collaboratory will host webinars throughout the year. Upcoming webinars include:

  • How can utilities transform their energy plans to advance clean energy? In partnership with the Payne Institute at Colorado School of Mines, this webinar is scheduled for May 2020.
  • Focused on hydrogen, there will be another webinar in May in partnership with Colorado Cleantech Industries Association (CCIA), Denver Metro Clean Cities Coalition, and Colorado Hydrogen Network
  • In June and July, the Collaboratory will host three panels in partnership with Will Toor and his team at the Colorado Energy Office on Colorado Transportation Electrification focused on electric vehicles.
  • In July, the Collaboratory will host a webinar Decarbonization Strategies for Colorado from a Legislator’s and Utility Perspective that will include panelists State Senator Chris Hansen, Colorado Public Utility Commissioner, and a top executive from Xcel Energy.
  • Other webinars include Renewable natural gas, Powering women in energy—jobs and careers, The role of natural gas and natural gas infrastructure in the energy transition, and Decarbonization Solutions (that include multiple Collaboratory researchers and scientists)

Nexus in Action

Working in a Nexus lab, David Goggin is a graduate researcher. David shares his GRADS project in the video above!

Scientist Nancy Haegel [NREL] Uses the Elegance of Physics to Guide Materials Research

NREL Materials Science Center Director Nancy Haegel’s fingerprints were on semiconductor light detectors aboard NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. During that time, Haegel also worked on semiconductor materials for solar cells, radiation detectors, and light emitters—all areas that have helped inform her activities at NREL.

“When people ask what I do here, I’m never quite sure what to tell them,” Haegel said. “And so, in our center, I think the joke is that I am expensive grease”—pushing to help projects go forward with less friction. “I enjoy every day being expensive grease for such bright, committed people who are doing such great work.”

Brought to us by the NREL communications team. Read more on Nancy’s accomplishments on the NREL website here. If you are a member of the media and wish to learn more, please contact David Glickson at 303-275-4097 or email David.Glickson@nrel.gov.