Oak Ridge National Laboratory
will be home to two of 46 new multi-million-dollar Energy Frontier Research
Centers (EFRCs) announced today by the White House in conjunction with a speech
delivered by President Barack Obama at the annual meeting of the National Academy
The EFRCs, which will pursue advanced scientific research on energy, are being
established by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science at universities,
national laboratories, nonprofit organizations, and private firms across the
ORNL and Argonne National Laboratory each received two of the 12 awards for
national laboratories. ORNL was a partner on approximately 10 other successful
"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 workforce 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 EFRCs, to be funded at $2-5 million per year each for a planned initial
five-year period, were selected from a pool of some 260 applications received
in response to a solicitation issued by the U.S. Department of Energy Office
of Science in 2008. 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 are key pieces to 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 $25 million FIRST Center will bring together a multi-disciplinary 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.
One of the center's goals is to achieve the ability to predict or even control
these interactions of electrons, atoms, ions and molecules to benefit the design
of new processes and materials with unique properties to address our future
energy needs. David Wesolowski, ORNL Chemical Sciences Division, is the center
director. ORNL's main center partners are Vanderbilt University, Argonne National
Laboratory and five universities.
ORNL's second funded project, the $19 million Energy Frontiers 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.
The center's goal is to provide atom-by-atom control and manipulation of defects
that currently limit material performance and lifetime. Center scientists also
will seek new ways to develop materials with unprecedented strength, toughness,
radiation damage tolerance, and self-recovery.
The center will deploy first-of-a-kind measurements of defect dynamics and
conduct fundamental calculations of the structure and dynamics of extended defects
based on new and advanced approaches.
Malcolm Stocks, ORNL Materials Science and Technology Division, is the center
EFRC researchers will take advantage of new capabilities in nanotechnology,
high-intensity light sources, neutron scattering sources, supercomputing, and
other advanced instrumentation, much of it developed with DOE Office of Science
support over the past decade, in an effort to lay the scientific groundwork
for fundamental advances in solar energy, biofuels, transportation, energy efficiency,
electricity storage and transmission, clean coal and carbon capture and sequestration,
and nuclear energy.
Of the 46 EFRCs selected, 31 are led by universities, 12 by DOE National Laboratories,
two by nonprofit organizations, and one by a corporate research laboratory.
The criterion for providing an EFRC with Recovery Act funding was job creation.
The EFRCs chosen for funding under the Recovery Act provide the most employment
for postdoctoral associates, graduate students, undergraduates, and technical
staff, in keeping with the Recovery Act's objective to preserve and create jobs
and promote economic recovery.