The U.S. Department of Energy's
(DOE) Argonne 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 by President Barack Obama at the annual meeting
of the National Academy of Sciences. The EFRCs, which will pursue advanced scientific
research on energy, are being established by DOE's Office of Science at universities,
national laboratories, nonprofit organizations and private firms across the
Argonne's EFRCs will focus on catalysts for efficient energy conversion and
on electrical-storage technologies for a variety of applications. DOE awarded
each center $19 million over five years.
“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 in response
to a solicitation issued by DOE's Office of Science in 2008. Selection was based
on a rigorous merit review process using outside panels of scientific experts.
"This is a very exciting opportunity for Argonne," Argonne Director-Designate
Eric Isaacs said. " Argonne can bring its deep well of research expertise
to bear on scientific grand challenges, which will open the door to energy technologies
that will significantly alter and improve how we power our homes, businesses
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.
Argonne's Institute for Atom-efficient Chemical Transformations (IACT) will
receive $19 million over five years. The funding award will allow IACT to use
a multidisciplinary approach to address key catalytic conversions that could
improve the efficiency of producing fuels from coal and biomass. IACT will focus
on advancing the science of catalysis for the efficient conversion of energy
resources into usable forms.
Catalysis in chemistry is the acceleration of a chemical reaction caused by
the introduction of a substance or material that remains unchanged by the reaction.
"Catalysts found in nature demonstrate how amazingly efficient and selective
catalysts can be," said Argonne chemist Christopher Marshall, principal
investigator and IACT director. "The institute's aim is to achieve the
type of control and efficiency of chemical conversions that are found in nature.
To achieve that goal, new catalytic materials will be required. A major emphasis
of IACT is the design and synthesis of new, complex, multisite, multifunctional
catalytic materials that offer new paradigms for catalysis."
DOE awarded Argonne's Center for Electrical Energy Storage: Tailored Interfaces
(CEES) $19 million over five years. Argonne Distinguished Fellow Michael Thackeray
will direct the CEES, which will investigate electrical-energy storage technologies
for alternative renewable energy sources, transportation, medicine, defense,
aerospace, telecommunications and consumer applications.
"CEES' main goal," Thackeray said, "is to gain a fundamental
understanding of the interfacial phenomena that control electrochemical processes
in electrical energy storage devices. This understanding will lay the foundation
for the synthesis and design of electrode and electrolyte architectures that
will lead to the discovery of future generations of energy storage materials
and enable the development of batteries with enhanced capacity, power, safety
and longevity. The center's emphasis will be placed on lithium batteries since
they provide the best opportunity for greater-than-incremental advances."
The center brings together a world-class team of 17 scientists from Argonne,
the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne and Northwestern University and
will leverage research facilities at each organization, including Argonne's
Advanced Photon Source, Center for Nanoscale Materials and the Argonne Leadership
Of the 45 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.