'Historic' USD1.5 billion upgrade for US national labs

07 November 2022

The US Administration has issued a new report setting out initial priorities - including fusion - it says will enable it to reach net-zero by 2050, and is providing more than USD1.5 billion under Inflation Reduction Act funding to upgrade facilities and modernise infrastructure at the national laboratories which will undertake the research and innovation to support this.

(Image: @energy.gov)

The White House report - issued on 4 November - identifies five initial priorities to help the USA meet the goal of cutting greenhouse gases by 50-52% by 2030 and get to net-zero emissions by no later than 2050: efficient heating and cooling; net zero aviation; net-zero power grid and electrification; cost-competitive fusion energy at scale; and development of industrial products and fuels for a net-zero, circular economy.

These solutions all build on existing clean energy priorities within federal agencies, the report notes.

The US Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Science is the nation's largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences and the lead federal entity supporting fundamental research for clean energy, and oversees the majority of the Department's national laboratories. This network of 17 labs grew from investment in scientific research initiated by the government during World War II, but "decades of underfunding" have put the Office of Science's mission at risk, DOE said.

US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said: “Thanks to President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, these world-class institutions will receive USD1.5 billion - one of the largest ever investments in national laboratory infrastructure - to develop advanced energy technologies and groundbreaking tools like Argonne National Laboratory's powerful new supercomputer, Aurora, that we need to advance new frontiers, like modelling climate change and developing vaccines.”

The USD1.55 billion of funding will accelerate ongoing facility upgrade projects and national laboratory infrastructure projects, in areas including advanced scientific computing research facilities; basic energy sciences projects; high energy physics; fusion energy science; nuclear physics construction; isotope research and development facilities; and science laboratory infrastructure projects. This will include both construction and major equipment projects.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in Tennessee, is one of the labs set to receive funding, getting USD490.9 million to support continued advances in exascale computing, continue progress on next-generation neutron science capabilities, advance fusion energy, and to expand its capacity to produce isotopes.

USD150 million in funding under the Inflation Reduction Act for infrastructure improvements at the DOE's Idaho National Laboratory was announced separately in October. This will support ageing facilities that are important for nuclear energy research and development, including the Advanced Test Reactor and Materials Fuels Complex, both of which have been operational for more than 50 years. An additional USD15.5 million for the national labs will be distributed in January 2023, DOE said.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News