The Idaho National Laboratory may be best known today for its work on all things nuclear and for dealing with decades of deadly post-Cold War nuclear contamination under Idaho’s Arco desert, but a less-publicized research program on new transportation technologies is also gaining traction at INL, according to the Idaho Falls Post-Register newspaper.

In a Dec. 11 article, the Post-Register described what it called “one of the nation’s premier electric vehicle research centers” that includes “researching new types of electric vehicles and batteries to charging stations and driver habits.”The Department of Energy’s Idaho lab has been undertaking extensive research on how drivers use and charge their electric vehicles (EVs) and how EV charging stations can be most efficiently deployed to meet the various charging habits of EV drivers. For instance, researchers found that drivers of Nissan Leaf electric vehicles charged their cars uniformly through the work week, while owners of Chevrolet Volts tended to plug in more toward the end of the week than on Mondays. And as might be expected, publicly accessible charging stations were used less on weekends, when drivers would presumably be charging their cars at home.

INL teams are also experimenting with EV chargers that don’t require plugging in the vehicle, according to the newspaper. INL’s Advanced Vehicle Testing Activity (AVTA) is also researching technologies to extend the driving range of electric vehicles, plug-in “hybrid” electric vehicle technologies, and technologies aimed at improving EV energy storage.

The research at the lab is becoming more important as the nation’s transportation fleet is increasingly electrified. For more information about INL’s Advanced Vehicle Testing Activity, visit the INL AVTA website here.