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DOE Awards $377 Million in Funding for 46 Energy Frontier Research Centers

US Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the delivery of $377 million in funding for 46 new multi-million-dollar Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs) (earlier post) located at universities, national laboratories, nonprofit organizations, and private firms across the nation.

The mission of the EFRCs is to accelerate the rate of scientific breakthroughs needed to create advanced energy technologies for the 21st century. Examples of areas of research focus include, but are not limited to: the direct conversion of solar energy to electricity and chemical fuels; understanding how biological feedstocks are converted into portable fuels; a new generation of radiation-tolerant materials and chemical separation processes for fission applications; energy storage systems; energy utilization and transmission; and science-based geological carbon sequestration.

With the initiation of the EFRCs in April 2008, the Department of Energy (DOE) budgeted approximately $100 million for multiple EFRC awards starting in FY 2009. The additional $277 million being awarded comes from funding made available through the Recovery Act. Of the 46 EFRCs, DOE plans to fund 30 annually for five years at a total cost per year of $100 million—i.e., awards are subject to FY 2010 to FY 2013 appropriations. Sixteen are forward-funded for the full five-year award period with the $277 million of Recovery Act funds. In total, the EFRC initiative represents a planned DOE commitment of $777 million over five years.

EFRCs fully forward-funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act include:

Lead Institution EFRC Name 5-Yr. Funding ($mil) EFRC Objective
Pennsylvania State University Center for Lignocellulose Structure and Formation $21 Dramatically increase our fundamental knowledge of the physical structure of biopolymers in plant cell walls to provide a basis for improved methods for converting biomass into fuels.
Purdue University Center for Direct Catalytic Conversion of Biomass to Biofuels (C3Bio) $20 Use fundamental knowledge about the interactions between catalysts and plant cell walls to design improved processes for the conversion of biomass to energy, fuels, or chemicals.
University of Michigan Solar Energy Conversion in Complex Materials (SECCM) $19.5 Study complex material structures on the nanoscale to identify key features for their potential use as materials to convert solar energy and heat to electricity.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Excitonics $19 Understand the transport of charge carriers in synthetic disordered systems, which hold promise as new materials for conversion of solar energy to electricity and electrical energy storage.
Northwestern University Center for Integrated Training in Far-From- Equilibrium and Adaptive Materials (CITFAM) $19 Synthesize, characterize, and understand new classes of materials under conditions far from equilibrium relevant to solar energy conversion, storage of electricity and hydrogen, and catalysis.
University of California, Santa Barbara Center on Materials for Energy Efficiency Applications $19 Discover and develop materials that control the interactions between light, electricity, and heat at the nanoscale for improved solar energy conversion, solid-state lighting, and conversion of heat into electricity.
University of Notre Dame IN Materials Science of Actinides $18.5 Understand and control, at the nanoscale, materials that contain actinides (radioactive heavy elements such as uranium and plutonium) to lay the scientific foundation for advanced nuclear energy systems.
Cornell University Nanostructured Interfaces for Energy Generation, Conversion, and Storage $17.5 Understand and control the nature, structure, and dynamics of reactions at electrodes in fuel cells, batteries, solar photovoltaics, and catalysts.
University of Delaware Rational Design of Innovative Catalytic Technologies for Biomass Derivative Utilization $17.5 Design and characterize novel catalysts for the efficient conversion of the complex molecules comprising biomass into chemicals and fuels.
University of North Carolina Solar Fuels and Next Generation Photovoltaics $17.5 Synthesize new molecular catalysts and light absorbers and integrate them into nanoscale architectures for improved generation of fuels and electricity from sunlight.
Columbia University Re-Defining Photovoltaic Efficiency Through Molecule- Scale Control $16 Develop the enabling science needed to realize breakthroughs in the efficient conversion of sunlight into electricity in nanometer sized thin films.
University of Massachusetts Polymer-Based Materials for Harvesting Solar Energy $16 Use novel, self-assembled polymer materials in systems for the conversion of sunlight into electricity.
University of Arizona Center for Interface Science: Hybrid Solar-Electric Materials (CIS:HSEM) $15 Enhance the conversion of solar energy to electricity using hybrid inorganic-organic materials.
University of Texas, Austin Understanding Charge Separation and Transfer at Interfaces in Energy Materials and Devices (CST) $15 Pursue fundamental research on charge transfer processes that underpin the function of highly promising molecular materials for photovoltaic and electrical energy storage applications.
Arizona State University EFR Center for Bio-Inspired Solar Fuel Production $14.02 Adapt the fundamental principles of natural photosynthesis to the man-made production of hydrogen or other fuels from sunlight.
University of Southern California Emerging Materials for Solar Energy Conversion and Solid State Lighting $12.5 Simultaneously explore the light absorbing and emitting properties of hybrid inorganic-organic materials for solar energy conversion and solidstate lighting.

EFRCs funded subject to FY 2010 to FT 2013 appropriations include:

Lead Institution EFRC Name 5-Yr. Funding ($mil) EFRC Objective
Brookhaven National Laboratory Center for Emergent Superconductivity $22.5 By understanding the fundamental physics of superconductivity, discover new high-temperature superconductors and improve the performance of known superconductors.
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis $22.5 Develop a comprehensive understanding of how chemical and electrical energy contained in fuels is exchanged, stored and released.
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Center for Nanoscale Control of Geologic CO2 $20 Establish the scientific foundations for the geological storage of carbon dioxide.
National Renewable Energy Laboratory Center for Inverse Design $20 Replace trial-and-error methods used in the development of materials for solar energy conversion with an inverse design approach powered by theory and computation.
Princeton University Energy Frontier Research Center for Combustion Science $20 Develop a suite of predictive combustion modeling capabilities for the chemical design and utilization of non-petroleum based fuels in transportation.
Stanford University Center on Nanostructuring for Efficient Energy Conversion $20 Design, create, and characterize materials at the nanoscale for a wide variety of energy applications.
Washington University, St. Louis Photosynthetic Antenna Research Center $20 Understand the basic scientific principles that underlie the efficient functioning of the natural photosynthetic antenna system as a basis for man-made systems to convert sunlight into fuels.
Argonne National Laboratory Institute for Atom- Efficient Chemical Transformations (IACT) $19 Discover, understand, and control efficient chemical pathways for the conversion of coal and biomass into chemicals and fuels.
Argonne National Laboratory Center for Electrical Energy Storage: Tailored Interfaces $19 Understand complex phenomena in electrochemical reactions critical to advanced electrical energy storage.
Los Alamos National Laboratory The Center for Advanced Solar Photophysics $19 Capitalize on recent advances in the science of how nanoparticles interact with light to design materials that have vastly greater efficiencies for the conversion of sunlight into electricity.
Los Alamos National Laboratory Extreme Environment- Tolerant Materials via Atomic Scale Design of Interfaces $19 Understand, at the atomic scale, the behavior of materials subject to extreme radiation doses and mechanical stress in order to synthesize new materials that maintain their desired properties under such conditions.
Northwestern University Argonne-Northwestern Solar Energy Research (ANSER) Center $19 Revolutionize the design, synthesis, and control of molecules, materials, and processes in order to dramatically improve conversion of sunlight into electricity and fuels.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory Energy Frontier Center for Defect Physics in Structural Materials (CDP) $19 Enhance our fundamental understanding of defects, defect interactions, and defect dynamics that determine the performance of structural alloys in extreme radiation environments.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory Fluid Interface Reactions, Structures and Transport (FIRST) Center $19 Provide basic scientific understanding of phenomena that occur at interfaces in electrical energy storage, conversion of sunlight into fuels, geological sequestration of carbon dioxide, and other advanced energy systems.
Sandia National Laboratories EFRC for Solid State Lighting Science $18 Study energy conversion in tailored nanostructures as a basis for dramatically improved solid-state lighting.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Solid-State Solarthermal Energy Conversion Center (S3TEC CENTER) $17.5 Create novel, solid-state materials for the conversion of sunlight and heat into electricity.
State University of New York, Stony Brook Northeastern Chemical Energy Storage Center (NOCESC) $17 Understand how fundamental chemical reactions occur at electrodes and use that knowledge to tailor new electrodes to improve the performance of existing batteries or to design entirely new ones.
University of Texas, Austin Frontiers of Subsurface Energy Security $15.5 Harness recent theoretical and experimental advances to explain the transport of native and injected fluids, particularly carbon dioxide, in geological systems over multiple length scales.
California Institute of Technology Light-Material Interactions in Energy Conversion $15 Tailor the properties of advanced materials to control the flow.
Carnegie Institute of Washington Center for Energy Frontier Research in Extreme Environments (Efree) $15 Accelerate the discovery of energy-relevant materials that can tolerate transient extremes in pressure and temperature.
Donald Danforth Plant Science Center Center for Advanced Biofuels Systems $15 Generate the fundamental knowledge required to increase the efficiency of photosynthesis and production of energy-rich molecules in plants.
General Electric Global Research Center for Electrocatalysis, Transport Phenomena and Materials for Innovative Energy Storage $15 Explore the fundamental chemistry needed for an entirely new approach to energy storage that combines the best properties of a fuel cell and a flow battery.
University of Maryland Science of Precision Multifunctional Nanostructures for Electrical Energy Storage $14 Understand and build nano-structured electrode components as the foundation for new electrical energy storage technologies.
Louisiana State University Computational Catalysis and Atomic- Level Synthesis of Materials: Building Effective Catalysts from First Principles $12.5 Develop computational tools to accurately model catalytic reactions and thereby provide the basis for the design of new catalysts.
Michigan State University Revolutionary Materials for Solid State Energy Conversion $12.5 Investigate the underlying physical and chemical principles of advanced materials for the conversion of heat into electricity.
University of South Carolina Science Based Nano- Structure Design and Synthesis of Heterogeneous Functional Materials for Energy Systems $12.5 Build a scientific basis for bridging the gap between making nano-structured materials and understanding how they function in a variety of energy applications.
University of California, Los Angeles Molecularly Assembled Material Architectures for Solar Energy Production, Storage, and Carbon Capture $11.5 Acquire a fundamental understanding and control of nanoscale material architectures for conversion of solar energy to electricity, electrical energy storage, and separating/capturing greenhouse gases.
University of Virginia Center for Catalytic Hydrocarbon Functionalization $11 Develop novel catalysts and manipulate their reactivity for the efficient conversion of hydrocarbon gases into liquid fuels.
Idaho National Laboratory Center for Materials Science of Nuclear Fuel) $10 Develop predictive computational models, validated by experiments, for the thermal and mechanical behavior of analogues to nuclear fuel.
University of California, Berkeley Center for Gas Separations Relevant to Clean Energy Technologies $10 Design and synthesize new forms of matter with tailored properties for gas separations in applications including carbon capture and sequestration.

A complete list of the 46 EFRCs, their lead institutions, locations, EFRC directors, funding levels and objectives, is on the Basic Energy Sciences’ Energy Frontier Research Centers page.



Good step ahead Mr. Chu.
This is an excellent way to advance various energy related technologies.

Hope that all 46 recipients received quantifiable goals or objectives that they will have to meet alone the way. Otherwise, the results could be rather disappointing.

What will happen to the end products/discoveries. Will the patents belong to the Federal government?

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