Clean Energy

Researchers at NASA Ames are conducting cutting-edge research in the development of clean energy technologies for NASA mission needs in the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate and the Science Mission Directorate. Our renewable energy focus is on advancing biofuels, solar, and wind technologies that also help reduce our nation’s dependence on petroleum-based fuels. By advancing clean energy technologies, NASA Ames hopes to help our nation reduce its generation of greenhouse gases and create a sustainable future here on Earth.

View online video archives of the Council on Competitiveness Western Energy Summit, courtesy of Clean Skies TV. The event was held at NASA Ames Research Center on July 30, 2009. Here's the press release.



Biofuels may provide a means to generate and store energy for NASA’s long-term human habitation and exploration missions. NASA Ames is conducting research on biofuels from both algae and waste biomass. Algae can be grown as a crop that is very high in oil content; waste biomass is envisioned as a elegant means of extracting energy from waste materials. Biofuels also benefit us here on Earth as a transportation fuel that reduces our dependence on foreign oil and mitigates the generation of greenhouse gas emissions.


The Algal Biofuels Team is centered around expertise in algal strain selection, growth, characterization, and monitoring, including photobioreactor research and development, microsatellites with algae in space, algae from extreme environments, and algae communities research.



The Cellulosic Biofuels Team is focused on bioengineering techniques that can improve the efficiency of digestion enzymes, investigating lipid extraction and analyses, and rosettazymes research to improve the cellulose-to-glucose-to-fuels process. The team issued a press release on July 31, 2009 describing their current research.



The Systems Engineering group develops and analyzes requirements for complex systems with unique capabilities to technically integrate component processes into a single system and assess potential sustainability and ecosystem impacts.

mars base



Solar Energy


Solar energy is the primary source of power for today’s NASA missions. New solar technologies can improve space-based energy systems for human and robotic spacecraft missions. NASA solar technologies demand that deployed solar energy systems be as efficient and as lightweight as possible. Researchers at NASA Ames are pushing the limits of solar energy efficiency and weight by creating new materials that enhance solar energy system performance. Our technologies for space-based applications also provide Earth-based benefits, helping to drive down the cost of solar energy with more efficient systems.

solar panels



Wind Energy


Aeronautics research, including the aerodynamics of air flow over turbines, is one of the signature areas of research for NASA Ames. NASA Ames maintains several different wind tunnels of varying sizes used to predict the performance of new prototype designs of rotocraft and other equipment where aerodynamics is a critical component. With deep skills in modeling and design, our researchers can apply their expertise and facilities to wind power applications to create more efficient wind power systems.

wind turbine