In efforts to transition to a new energy economy, the US federal government has been loaning money to solar and wind companies. It has also been pouring money into research and development.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Colorado has been around for over 30 years, but funding for the government-owned lab–dedicated exclusively to R&D, commercialization and deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies–has been boosted in recent years. In 2002, the lab received $215.8 million in federal funding. In 2010, the lab received $536.5 million.

Created by the DOE in 1977 as the Solar Energy Research Institute, NREL changed its name in September 1991 to encompass its broader scope. This video focuses on NREL’s efforts to develop hydrogen fuel cells, a potentially game-changing technology that can be used for both energy storage–in electric vehicles for example–and also for electrical generation.

“It really is the end-game for energy. If we can turn sunlight and water into a clean fuel than we don’t have to further alter our energy infrastructure,” Todd Deutsch, NREL senior scientist says in this video.

Scientists at the lab are using semiconductors to separate hydrogen atoms from oxygen atoms in water to isolate the hydrogen for a fuel source. Watch this video to see the scientific process at work as some of the country’s best and brightest try to harness the power of hydrogen.