Research Areas

Research Areas hneieditor September 13, 2022

HNEI conducts research, testing, analysis, and evaluation in the areas of alternative fuels, grid integration and renewable power generation, electrochemical power systems, advanced materials, energy efficiency and transportation, and policy. Select any of the topics below for more information on the area and links to specific projects.

Alternative fuels, for both transportation and power generation, are an important component of Hawai‘i’s efforts to reduce its dependence on imported petroleum. HNEI conducts research, testing, and evaluation, to support the development of alternative fuels including biomass and biofuels, hydrogen, solar fuels, and methane hydrates. HNEI also conducts analysis and planning to assess the potential for the use of alternative fuels to meet Hawai‘i energy needs.

The high cost of electricity in Hawai‘i, resulting from the geographic isolations of the islands’ electricity grids and widespread use of petroleum to generate electricity, has led to the rapid growth of renewable generation on all the islands. This isolation make Hawai‘i’s electricity grids particularly susceptible to the adverse effects of these intermittent renewable energy sources, but also an ideal test bed for solutions. HNEI’s primary activities in energy efficiency include research on high efficiency and net zero energy buildings; and building energy management systems and controls.

HNEI conducts research, development, and testing of fuel cell and battery technologies ranging from single cells prototypes to full scale deployed systems. The primary purpose of these efforts is to enable the prognosis of performance and durability under a wide range of applications including, but not limited to, grid storage, commercial transportation, as well as unmanned aerial and undersea vehicles.

Electrochemical Power Systems

Researchers at HNEI are involved in a broad range of research areas that are at the cutting edge of technology including thin film photovoltaics on new substrates, hydrogen storage methods, selectively absorbent gas purification materials and novel contaminant mitigation materials. The application of these technologies will lead to improvements in efficient energy delivery as well as providing environmentally beneficial solutions.

Advanced Materials

HNEI has a long history of research and development in ocean energy and resources technology, primarily in wave energy and in Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC). Emerging ocean energy technologies have the potential to contribute significantly to Hawai‘i’s and the nation’s future energy mix. HNEI supports the Navy’s development of the nation’s first grid connected wave energy test site and our OTEC-related research is primarily carried out through our relationship with Makai Ocean Engineering at an active OTEC research facility.

Ocean Energy

Technological innovation and public policy are foundational elements of any energy transition, including a modernized energy grid (i.e., smart grid), storage infrastructure, and governance. HNEI understands that policy drivers should be informed by technical and economic analyses. HNEI’s independent and impartial research, analysis, demonstration and testing has informed critical decisions made by regulators, legislators, utilities, and other energy stakeholders at the state, federal, and international levels.  HNEI also manages the Hawai‘i Energy Policy Forum (HEPF).

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