On April 27, 2009, the White House announced that the U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Science will invest $777 million in Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs) over five years. In a major effort to accelerate the scientific breakthroughs needed to build a new 21st-century energy economy, 46 new multi-million-dollar EFRCs have been established at universities, national laboratories, nonprofit organizations, and private firms across the nation. The EFRCs pursue the fundamental understanding necessary to meet the global need for abundant, clean, and economical energy.
The 46 EFRC awards span the full range of energy research challenges described in the Basic Research Needs (BRN) series of workshop reports, while also addressing one or more of the science grand challenges described in the report, Directing Matter and Energy: Five Challenge for Science and the Imagination. Many of the EFRCs address multiple energy challenges that are linked by common scientific themes—such as interfacial chemistry for solar energy conversion and electrical energy storage or rational design of materials for multiple potential energy applications. The distribution of the EFRC awards by broad topic areas (with the related BRN reports listed in parentheses) can be described as follows:
- Renewable and Carbon-Neutral Energy (Solar Energy Utilization*, Advanced Nuclear Energy Systems, Biofuels, Geological Sequestration of CO2); 20 EFRCs
- Energy Efficiency (Clean and Efficient Combustion, Solid State Lighting, Superconductivity); 6 EFRCs
- Energy Storage (Hydrogen Research, Electrical Energy Storage); 6 EFRCs
- Crosscutting Science (Catalysis, Materials under Extreme Environments, other); 14 EFRCs
* Focus of PARC
The Energy Frontier Research Centers: Technical Summaries document with indices of investigators, institutions, grand challenges addressed, basic research needs addressed, research topics, and theoretical and experimental methods is available on the BES EFRC website.