Department of Energy

Driving Innovation at the National Labs

October 9, 2014

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Researchers at the National Renewable Energy Lab showcase innovation at their Vehicle Testing and Integration Facility. | Photo Courtesy of NREL.

Researchers at the National Renewable Energy Lab showcase innovation at their Vehicle Testing and Integration Facility. | Photo Courtesy of NREL.

As electric vehicles become more affordable, as cars become lighter and more efficient, and as alternative fuels become more accessible, the way we get around is changing. The Energy Department’s 17 National Labs play a big role in researching and developing these transportation advancements, which are improving air quality, increasing energy security and creating new jobs.

Researchers are studying the benefits of charging electric vehicles wirelessly -- from reducing harmful emissions to enabling in-motion charging. Scientists at Oak Ridge National Lab have demonstrated a wireless charging unit with 85 percent efficiency, meaning only 15 percent of the energy from the grid service is lost in the transfer to the vehicle’s battery when charging wirelessly.

Meanwhile, the Department’s Joint Center for Energy Storage Research at Argonne National Lab is working to make large-scale improvements to battery technology to increase storage, decrease charging time and lower cost.

Biodiesel -- which surpassed 1 billion gallons of annual use in 2011 -- is just one alternative fuel in development at the National Renewable Technology Lab. They are also testing various ethanol blends and other biofuels, as well as hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. Alternative fuels could help decrease our dependence on foreign oil and strengthen our energy security.

We'll be highlighting these stories and more this month on Energy.gov, Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Visit energy.gov/labs to learn more about the Energy Department's 17 National Labs and the incredible advancements in science and technology that they are making every day.