Energy Frontier Research Centre established

Thursday, 04 June, 2009


The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) will be home to a new multi-million-dollar Energy Frontier Research Centre (EFRC). The Centre for Inverse Design will pursue advanced scientific research on material discovery for energy.

“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 Dr Steven Chu. “Meeting this challenge will require significant scientific advances. These centres will mobilise 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.”

Dr Alex Zunger, NREL Research Fellow and Director of the Centre for Inverse Design, said: “This centre will embark on daring research that uses quantum theory to design new materials that have desired properties and then use state-of-the-art synthesis to make them in the laboratory. The centre’s approach will be like playing ‘Quantum Jeopardy’. Given the answer, researchers must find the question.”

EFRC researchers will take advantage of new capabilities in nanotechnology, high-intensity light sources, neutron-scattering sources, supercomputing and other advanced instrumentation. The centres will work together in an effort 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.

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