Two Energy Frontier Research Centers at ORNL
Oak Ridge National Laboratory will be home to 2 of 46 new multi-million-dollar Energy Frontier Research Centers announced by the White House in conjunction with a speech delivered by President Barack Obama at the annual meeting of the National Academy of Sciences. The Energy Frontier Research Centers are being established by the Department of Energy at universities, national laboratories, nonprofit organizations, and private firms to address specific energy technologies.
"As global energy demand grows over this century, there is an urgent need to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and imported oil and curtail greenhouse gas emissions," said Secretary of Energy Steven Chu. "Meeting this challenge will require significant scientific advances. These centers will mobilize the enormous talents and skills of our nation's scientific work force in pursuit of the breakthroughs that are essential to make alternative and renewable energy truly viable as large-scale replacements for fossil fuels."
The 46 centers, to be funded at $2-$5 million annually for an initial five-year period, were selected from a pool of some 260 applications. Many of the winning proposals came from teams that combined the capabilities of universities and national laboratories. Selection was based on a rigorous merit review process utilizing outside panels composed of scientific experts.
The two ORNL Energy Frontier Center projects are the Fluid Interface Reactions, Structures and Transport (FIRST) Center and the Energy Frontier Center for Defect Physics in Structural Materials. "Energy storage and material properties will be key pieces to solving the nation's energy puzzle," said Michelle Buchanan, ORNL Associate Laboratory Director for Physical Sciences. "ORNL has a unique blend of scientific expertise, facilities and leadership needed to address these challenges. We are honored to receive these awards and eager to go to work."
The FIRST Center, which DOE plans to fund at a level of $19 million, will bring together a multidisciplinary research team of labs and universities to provide unprecedented knowledge of how fluids and solid materials interface at a subatomic level. Understanding these interactions is the basis for improved batteries, solar panels, and fuel cells and also can impact other energy-related research applications, such as carbon dioxide sequestration and corrosion-resistant materials.
ORNL's second funded project, the Energy Frontier Research Center for Defect Physics in Structural Materials, will bring together researchers from ORNL, six universities, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, to address the most pressing basic research challenges in structural materials for energy. DOE also plans to fund this center at a level of approximately $19 million.
The center's goal is to provide atom-by-atom control and manipulation of defects that currently limit material performance and durability. Center scientists also will seek new ways to develop materials with unprecedented strength, toughness, radiation damage tolerance, and self-recovery. Malcolm Stocks of ORNL's Materials Science and Technology Division is the center director.
Energy Frontier researchers in Oak Ridge will take advantage of new capabilities in nanotechnology, high-intensity light sources, neutron scattering sources, supercomputing, and other advanced instrumentation. The effort seeks to lay the scientific groundwork for fundamental advances in solar energy, biofuels, transportation, energy efficiency, electricity storage and transmission, clean coal, carbon capture and sequestration, and nuclear energy.
Web site provided by Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Communications and External Relations