Skip to main content

About National Renewable Energy Laboratory

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is the only national laboratory solely dedicated to advancing renewable energy and energy efficiency. As part of the U.S. Department of Energy's Small Business Vouchers Pilot, NREL will connect clean energy innovators across the country with top-notch scientists, engineers, and analysts, as well as world-class facilities in fuel cells; hydrogen production, delivery, and infrastructure technology; hydrogen storage; safety, codes and standards; manufacturing; and infrastructure analysis.


NREL's Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Technologies research program is the only national lab supporting the Fuel Cells Technologies Office (FCTO) that has significant activities in all eight technical areas of DOE's program. NREL focuses on developing, integrating, and demonstrating advanced hydrogen production and delivery, hydrogen storage, and fuel cell technologies for transportation, stationary, and portable applications. Projects range from fundamental research to overcome technical barriers; component design, testing, and validation; manufacturing process improvement to enable high-volume fuel cell production; systems analysis to identify the most promising commercialization pathways; and safety, codes and standards activities to ensure safe operation, handling, and use of hydrogen systems.

NREL's capabilities include the following:

  • Fuel cells: MEA and electrode development; alkaline exchange membranes/electrolytes; hydrogen PEM MEA testing and evaluation; contaminant testing
  • Hydrogen production, delivery, and infrastructure technology: Photobiological, photoelectrochemical, and fermentative hydrogen production; renewable electrolysis and grid integration; accelerated component reliability testing; high-pressure testing; Hydrogen Infrastructure Testing and Research Facility
  • Hydrogen storage: Hydrogen storage sorbent material testing and characterization; solid state storage and regeneration; Engineering Center of Excellence
  • Safety, codes, and standards: Codes and standards development for buildings and equipment; hydrogen safety/detection sensor testing
  • Manufacturing: Manufacturing quality control and metrology research and development; studying performance and durability effects of defects
  • Analysis: Total cost of fuel cell ownership energy analysis; hydrogen infrastructure scenario and techno-economic analysis; economic impact (jobs/competitiveness) and manufacturing/supply-chain analysis; National Fuel Cell Technology Evaluation Center


NREL provides industry, government, and university researchers with access to state-of-the-art and unique equipment for conducting hydrogen and fuel cell research and development.

NREL facilities include:

  • Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF): This is the nation's premier facility capable of conducting integrated megawatt-scale research and development of the components and strategies needed to integrate sustainable transportation technologies with buildings and the electrical grid. The ESIF includes specialized laboratories for fuel cell development and testing, electrochemical characterization, materials fabrication and characterization, manufacturing, high-pressure component testing, and safety sensor testing.
  • Hydrogen Infrastructure Testing and Research Facility (HITRF): Located at NREL's ESIF, the HITRF consists of hydrogen storage, compression, and dispensing capabilities for fuel cell vehicle fueling and component testing. The facility is representative of current commercially available hydrogen fueling stations, enabling NREL to validate current industry standards and methods for hydrogen fueling as well as perform testing for next-generation technology and controls.
  • Distributed Energy Resources Test Facility: A working laboratory for interconnection and systems integration testing. This state-of-the-art facility includes generation, storage, and interconnection technologies as well as electric power system equipment capable of simulating a real-world electric system.
  • National Fuel Cell Technology Evaluation Center (NFCTEC): The NFCTEC plays a crucial role in convening the fuel cell industry by providing independent, third-party analysis of hydrogen fuel cell technologies in real-world operation.
  • Renewable hydrogen production and hydrogen storage laboratories.