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DOE awards $100M in 2nd funding round for 32 Energy Frontier Research Centers

The US Department of Energy (DOE) is awarding $100 million in the second round of funding for Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs); research supported by this initiative will enable fundamental advances in energy production, storage, and use.

The 32 projects receiving funding were competitively selected from more than 200 proposals. Ten of these projects are new while the rest received renewed funding based both on their achievements to date and the quality of their proposals for future research.

Twenty-three of the projects receiving funding are headed by universities, eight are led by the Energy Department’s National Laboratories and one project is run by a non-profit organization.

Awards range from $2 million to $4 million per year per center for up to four fiscal years, subject to a progress review in year two. DOE plans to open the EFRC program to new applications every two years.

Since their establishment by the Department’s Office of Science, the EFRCs have produced 5,400 peer-reviewed scientific publications and hundreds of inventions at various stages of the patent process. EFRC research has also benefited a number of large and small firms, including start-up companies.

The centers selected for the second round of funding will help lay the scientific groundwork for fundamental advances in solar energy, electrical energy storage, carbon capture and sequestration, materials and chemistry by design, biosciences, and extreme environments.

FY 2014 EFRC Awards
Lead organization EFRC Name EFRC Objective
Caltech Light-Material Interactions in Energy Conversion (LMI) Tailor the morphology, complex dielectric structure, and electronic properties of matter so as to sculpt the flow of sunlight and heat, enabling light conversion to electrical energy with unprecedented efficiency.
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Center for Nanoscale Controls on Geologic CO2 (NCGC) Produce robust predictive models that will greatly improve confidence in subsurface carbon dioxide storage systems by characterizing and understanding carbon dioxide trapping processes at the nano, meso, and macro scales.
University of California, Berkeley Center for Gas Separations Relevant to Clean Energy Technologies (CGS) Create new synthesis strategies, combined with novel characterization and computational methods, for tailoring materials for the efficient separation of gases, such as natural gas, hydrocarbons, and carbon dioxide.
University of California, Riverside Spins and Heat in Nanoscale Electronic Systems (SHINES) Explore the interplay of spin, charge, and heat to control the transport of spin and energy to achieve much higher energy efficiencies in nanoscale electronic devices.
National Renewable Energy Laboratory Center for Next Generation of Materials by Design: Incorporating Metastability (CNGMD) Transform the design and synthesis of materials for solar energy conversion and solid state lighting using high throughput computation and data mining.
Carnegie Institution of Washington Catalysis Center for Energy Innovation (CCEI) Understand catalytic processes that will enable the viable, economic operation of biorefineries with lignocellulosic biomass feedstocks converted to a range of fuels and chemicals.
Georgia Tech Center for Understanding and Control of Acid Gas-induced Evolution of Materials for Energy (UNCAGE-ME) Develop fundamental understanding of acid gas interactions with sorbent, catalyst, and membrane materials to enable rational design of acid gas-tolerant materials with improved catalytic and separations properties.
Argonne National Laboratory Center for Electrochemical Energy Science (CEES-II) Understand electrochemically-driven reactivity in electrified oxide materials, films and interfaces using lithium-ion battery chemistry.
Northwestern University Center for Bio-Inspired Energy Science (CBES) Develop artificial materials, inspired by biological systems, that can change the way we convert and use energy.
Argonne-Northwestern Solar Energy Research (ANSER) Center Revolutionize our understanding of the molecules, materials, and physical phenomena necessary to create dramatically more efficient technologies for solar fuels and electricity production.
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign Center for Geologic Storage of CO2 Discover new basic science solutions that address uncertainties in current technology at field carbon dioxide storage demonstration projects.
Purdue University Center for Direct Catalytic Conversion of Biomass to Biofuels (C3Bio) Use chemical catalysis and fast pyrolysis to transform the main components of non-food lignocellulosic biomass directly to liquid hydrocarbons and other high-value chemicals.
University of Notre Dame Materials Science of Actinides (MSA) Understand and control ceramic, metallic, hybrid, and nanoscale actinide materials to lay the scientific foundation for advanced nuclear energy systems.
Harvard University Integrated Mesoscale Architectures for Sustainable Catalysis (IMASC) Understand chemical reactivity of complex structures to enable the design of highly selective catalysts for some of the most energy-consuming industrial chemical processes.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Excitonics (CE) Develop new materials and structures that use excitons to increase the efficiency of solar photovoltaic cells and high brightness solid state lighting devices.
Solid-State Solar-Thermal Energy Conversion Center (S3TEC) Design materials for efficient direct heat-to electricity energy conversion technologies.
University of Maryland, College Park Nanostructures for Electrical Energy Storage (NEES II) Provide the scientific insights and design principles needed to realize a new generation of powerful and long lasting batteries based on nanostructures.
University of Minnesota Inorganometallic Catalyst Design Center (ICDC) Advance the knowledge of catalytic transformations through new theoretical, computational, and experimental approaches in order to design materials and processes for energy- and atom-efficient conversion of shale-gas components.
Washington University, St. Louis Photosynthetic Antenna Research Center (PARC) Understand the principles of light harvesting and energy funneling in photosynthetic systems.
Montana State University Center for Biological Electron Transfer and Catalysis (BETCy) Investigate the mechanisms and structural basis controlling electron transfer in model enzymes to develop modular biochemical conversions for the production of hydrocarbon and hydrogen biofuels.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Center for Solar Fuels (UNC) Develop the scientific basis for solar-driven molecular catalysis of solar fuel reactions.
Los Alamos National Laboratory Center for Advanced Solar Photophysics (CASP) Harness the unique properties of quantum-confined semiconductors to realize the next generation of low-cost, high- efficiency solar photoconversion systems.
Brookhaven National Laboratory Center for Emergent Superconductivity (CES) Explore the quantum mechanical underpinnings of high temperature superconductivity (HTS) and develop novel ways of using computational predictive design to tailor new HTS materials for energy applications.
SUNY Binghamton NorthEast Center for Chemical Energy Storage (NECCES) Understand the transformations that occur in an electrode composite structure throughout the lifetime of the functioning battery in order to achieve close to theoretical capacities in intercalation systems and enable new battery chemistries.
SUNY Stony Brook Center for Mesoscale Transport Properties (m2M) Understand ion and electron transport and electron transfer properties over multiple length scales and across interfaces to enable the design of higher performing, longer life, and safer energy storage systems.
Temple University Center for the Computational Design of Functional Layered Materials (CDFLM) Employ computation and theory to design modified layered materials with desired functionalities, to grow and experimentally characterize them, and to test their efficacy for clean-energy applications.
The Pennsylvania State University Center for Lignocellulose Structure and Formation (CLSF) Develop a detailed nano- to meso-scale understanding of plant cell wall structure and its mechanism of assembly to provide a basis for improved methods of converting biomass into fuels.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory Fluid Interface Reactions, Structures and Transport (FIRST) Center Develop fundamental understanding and validated, predictive models of the unique nanoscale environment at fluid-solid interfaces that will enable transformative advances in electrical energy storage and electrocatalysis.
Energy Dissipation to Defect Evolution (EDDE) Develop a fundamental understanding of energy dissipation mechanisms to control defect evolution in structural alloys in a radiation environment.
The University of Texas at Austin Center for Frontiers of Subsurface Energy Security (CFSES) Understand and control emergent behavior arising from coupled physics and chemistry in heterogeneous geomaterials, particularly during the time and length scales for geologic carbon dioxide storage.
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory  Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis (CME) Develop a fundamental understanding of proton transfer reactions that will lead to transformational changes in our ability to design molecular electrocatalysts for interconversion of electricity and fuels.
University of Delaware Catalysis Center for Energy Innovation (CCEI) Understand catalytic processes that will enable the viable, economic operation of biorefineries with lignocellulosic biomass feedstocks converted to a range of fuels and chemicals.

In August 2009, the Office of Basic Energy Sciences in the US Department of Energy’s Office of Science established 46 Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs). These Centers involve universities, national laboratories, nonprofit organizations, and for-profit firms, singly or in partnerships, and were selected by scientific peer review and funded at $2-5 million per year for a 5-year initial award period.



Continuation and re-selection should be based on results. I mean real results, not patents (that never get used), and not papers, I mean results that lead to real changes in our energy production and utilization systems.

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