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November 30th, 2012

Administration: NSF, DOE grants boost MGI efforts, new $120M hub to advance energy storage research

Published on November 30th, 2012 | By: pwray@ceramics.org

Credit: OSTP.

With the election behind it, the Obama administration appears to be quickly returning to a major emphasis on energy and “materials genome” related research.

First, according to a new story coauthored by Cyrus Wadia, the Office of Science and Technology Policy’s point person for the Materials Genome Initiative, $25 million worth of grants recently announced by NSF and DOE will directly impact the initiative and are “a significant milestone” for the project.

Wadia, and coauthor Meredith Drosback, a TMS fellow at OSTP, highlight seven particular MGI-related projects that received the new awards:

• A new Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory/MIT software center focused on computer simulations to rapidly prototype lithium ion battery electrolyte candidates;

• A University of Washington/GM collaboration to model thermoelectric materials to add efficiencies to next-gen auto engines;

• A University of Michigan center to create a suite of software tools to predict the behavior of magnesium alloys in lightweight vehicles;

• A University of Minnesota center to develop computer algorithms for the design of porous materials aimed at delivering advanced utility-scale carbon capture and sequestration technologies;

• A collaboration between the Universities of Pennsylvania and Delaware to create models to predict and assemble efficient and low-cost solar energy biomaterials;

• A project by researchers from University of Virginia and University of Alabama Tuscaloosa that will model, synthesize, and test new materials to be incorporated into circuits for faster computer memory;

• A research network between University of Illinois and Oak Ridge, Sandia, Argonne and Lawrence Livermore National Labs to develop computer code to better predict the behavior and performance of catalysts, semiconductor and related materials.

We will be working on providing more links to these projects. In the meantime, we are also working on an a related story for next week about the new report on the results of a NIST workshop held in May on the topic of Building the Materials Innovation Infrastructure: Data and Standards.

Also, the administration announced today that it is investing $120 million over the next five years in a new Joint Center for Energy Storage Research that will be led by Argonne National Lab. JCESR also will involve several universities, other federal labs and a handful of private sector partners. Participants include Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, Pacific Northwest National Lab, Sandia National Labs, SLAC National Accelerator Lab, Northwestern University, University of Chicago, University of Illinois-Chicago, University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, University of Michigan, Dow Chemical, Applied Materials, Johnson Controls and Clean Energy Trust.

According to a DOE news release, JCESR will focus on “advancements in batteries and energy storage technology are essential for continued efforts to develop a fundamentally new energy economy with decisively reduced dependence on imported oil. Improved storage will be vital to fully integrating intermittent renewable energy sources such as wind and solar into the electrical grid.  It will also be critical to transitioning the transportation sector to more flexible grid power.” The hub, formerly known as the Batteries and Energy Storage Hub, is supposed to address

• Efficacy of materials architectures and structure in energy storage;

• Charge transfer and transport;

• Electrolytes;

• Multi-scale modeling; and

• Probes of energy storage chemistry and physics at all time and length scales.

JCESR is DOE’s fourth Energy Innovation Hub. DOE is planning a fifth hub dedicated to “critical materials” research. The agency is still accepting and evaluating proposals for this hub.

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