Energy Secretary Rick Perry announced a proposed $99 million in fiscal year 2018 funding for Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs) to accelerate transformative scientific advances for the most challenging topics in materials sciences, chemical sciences, geosciences, and biosciences. DOE says research supported by this initiative will provide fundamental understanding to enable future advances in energy production and use.
“These centers will mobilize our top scientists in the effort to secure America’s energy future,” said Perry. “By forging leading researchers into strong, innovative teams, the Energy Frontier Research Centers can be expected to generate the energy breakthroughs that will define the future of our economic and national security.”
The department said that since their establishment by DOE’s Office of Science in 2009, the EFRCs have produced thousands of peer-reviewed scientific publications and continue to be an important asset to the DOE's mission. The department currently funds 36 EFRCs, 32 of which were selected for four-year funding in 2014. With support for those centers set to expire in July 2018, DOE has announced a competition for another round of funding.
The competition will be open to proposals both from existing EFRCs seeking renewal of support and from institutions seeking to establish new EFRCs under the program. Universities, national laboratories, nonprofit organizations, and private firms are eligible to compete and are encouraged to form multi-disciplinary research teams that may include partnerships with other institutions.
Selection will be based on a rigorous peer review process. When making selections, DOE says it will emphasize emerging science priorities that have been highlighted in recent workshops, including quantum materials, catalysis science, synthesis science, instrumentation science, next-generation energy storage, future nuclear energy, and energy-water issues.
Awards for each selected center are expected to range from $2 million to $4 million per year for a total of four fiscal years. Total funding for the EFRC program, pending congressional appropriations, is expected to be about $99 million per year for the four-year awards.