3 Cleantech Facilities You Should Know About

on January 28, 2014 at 5:00 PM


The Energy Department’s National Labs are leading the way in science and innovation by developing the next generation of clean energy technologies. To help drive this innovation, the scientists at the National Labs use some of the most cutting-edge facilities in the world — some of which are also available for use by other government agencies, private companies and universities.

These facilities are being used to develop new technologies, serve as test beds for the deployment of those technologies and foster economically beneficial public-private partnerships, ensuring that innovations make it from the lab to the marketplace. These National Lab facilities are supporting local economies across the country and driving national industries — and you should definitely know more about them.


At the National Wind Technology Center, scientists from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory work side-by-side with wind industry partners to increase system reliability and reduce wind energy costs. The center’s test sites are ideally situated to experience diverse, robust wind patterns that are advantageous for the development of advanced wind energy technologies. The 305-acre site includes field test sites, laboratories, industrial high-bay work areas and machine shops. Researchers at the facility also have access to a plethora of test articles and supporting components (such as turbines), calibration and measurement instruments, machine tools, computers and complementary infrastructure to support a wide variety of research needs.


Operated by Sandia National Laboratories, the National Solar Thermal Test Facility is the only test facility of its type in the United States. The facility is used for the development, research and testing of solar thermal components and systems. Solar thermal electric systems work by using the energy from the sun’s rays to heat a working fluid that powers a turbine and drives a generator, thereby creating electricity. Researchers at the facility have access to a large heliostat field, rotating platform, assembly building, solar furnace, a facility for the testing of components in high temperatures and a wide array of other test bays, office space and tools that are useful in solar and non-solar applications. The facility is available for use by federal agencies, research institutes, universities and private companies.


Located at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the Advanced Biofuels Process Demonstration Unit is a 15,000-square-foot state-of-the-art laboratory for testing and developing emerging biofuels technologies. The facility provides researchers with the tools and technologies necessary to produce demonstration quantities of biofuels from biomass such as grasses, wood and agricultural residues. The lab is equipped for every step of the biofuel R&D process — from pretreatment to biofuel and enzyme fermentation and downstream processing. The facility is available for use by Energy Department-supported researchers, academic institutions, non-profit research organizations and companies involved in biofuels R&D production.