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DOE Invests $366 million in Energy Innovation Hubs

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U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu today outlined theDepartment’s plans to invest up to $366 million to establish andoperate three new Energy Innovation Hubs focused on acceleratingresearch and development in three key energy areas. Each Hub, to befunded at up to $122 million over five years, will bring together amultidisciplinary team of researchers in an effort to speed researchand shorten the path from scientific discovery to technologicaldevelopment and commercial deployment of highly promisingenergy-related technologies. “Given the urgency of our challenges in both energy andclimate, we need to do everything we can to mobilize our Nation’sscientific and technological talent to accelerate the pace ofinnovation,” said Secretary Chu. “The DOE Energy Innovation Hubsrepresent a new, more proactive approach to managing and conductingresearch. We are taking a page from America’s great industriallaboratories in their heyday. Their achievements—from the transistorto the information theory that makes modern telecommunicationspossible—are evidence that we can build creative, highly-integratedresearch teams that can accomplish more, faster, than researchersworking separately.”

 

The Hubs are part of a broad-based clean energy research strategy bythe Obama Administration that will harness America’s innovation machineto achieve the breakthroughs we need.

 

This strategy includes three new initiatives which are designed to complement each other:

 

  1. The first approach is the Energy Frontier Research Centers launchedby the Department’s Office of Science to support multi-year,multi-investigator scientific collaborations focused on overcominghurdles in basic science that block transformational discoveries.
  2. The second approach is spearheaded by the Department'srecently-formed Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy ("ARPA-E"),which uses a highly entrepreneurial funding model that supportsAmerica's passionate energy innovators to explore high-risk,high-reward potentially transformative technologies that are too riskyfor industry to fund.
  3. The third novel funding model, Energy Innovation Hubs, willestablish larger, highly integrated teams ideally working under oneroof, conducting high-risk, high-reward research and working to solvepriority technology challenges that span work from basic research toengineering development to commercialization readiness.

The three DOE Energy Innovation Hubs will focus on:

 

  • production of fuels directly from sunlight;
  • improving energy-efficient building systems design; and
  • computer modeling and simulation for the development of advanced nuclear reactors.

The Department will provide $22 million in the first year for theestablishment of each Hub and up to $25 million per year for thefollowing four years to support the operations of each Hub—for a totalaward of up to $122 million per Hub. Important information on theDOE’s Hub implementation plan and strategy for managing the Hubs can befound on the Energy Innovation Hubs website: http://hubs.energy.gov.

 

Fuels from Sunlight Energy Innovation Hub

 

The objective of this Hub is to accelerate the development of asustainable commercial process for the conversion of sunlight directlyinto energy-rich chemical fuels, likely using mechanisms based onphotosynthesis, the method used by plants to convert sunlight, carbondioxide, and water into sugar. The Fuels from Sunlight EnergyInnovation Hub will provide researchers with significant new resourcesto accelerate basic and applied research in the drive toward apotentially transformative new energy technology. Achievement of anefficient, cost-effective means to convert solar energy directly tofuel could have significant impact on U.S. energy security and onenergy production globally.

 

Modeling and Simulation for Nuclear Reactors Energy Innovation Hub

 

This Hub is intended to produce a multi-physics computationalenvironment that will be used by engineers to create improvedunderstanding of issues with current and future nuclear energytechnologies. The Department’s Office of Nuclear Energy hosted aworkshop on the Modeling and Simulation for Nuclear Reactors EnergyInnovation Hub on December 7, 2009 to provide an opportunity for thoseinterested in this Hub and its upcoming FOA to fully understand the Hubvision, program objectives, and the procurement process for theestablishment and operation of the Hub.

 

Energy Efficient Building Systems Design Energy Innovation Hub

 

The objective of the Energy Efficient Building Systems Design EnergyInnovation Hub is to develop highly efficient buildings components,systems, and models. Achieving the Hub's main goal of reducing energyuse for indoor space conditioning will require a focus on advances incore technologies, such as advanced refrigeration cycles, as well as ondevelopment of fully instrumented infrastructure aided by buildingssystem design and modeling. Such solutions could have a major impact onnational electricity consumption, as the nation’s buildings consumeapproximately 70 percent of all electric power.

 

A Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) inviting proposals for theFuels from Sunlight Energy Innovation Hub has been issued, and a linkto the FOA is available at the Energy Innovation Hubs website. Thedeadline for proposals for the Fuels from Sunlight Energy InnovationHub is March 29, 2010. Funding opportunity announcements for theother two Energy Innovation Hubs are expected to be issued early nextyear. The Energy Efficient Building Systems Design Hub will also be thecentral component of a regional innovation cluster funding opportunitywhich will include coordinated grant opportunities from otheragencies.

 

Universities, national laboratories, nonprofit organizations, andprivate firms are eligible to compete for an award to establish andoperate a Hub and are encouraged to form partnerships. Awards, basedon evaluation by scientific peer review, will be announced nextsummer. The Hubs are expected to begin work in 2010 and will be fullyoperational by 2011.

 

Media contact(s):

(202) 586-4940

 

 

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Office of Science - Chicago

U.S. Department of Energy

Office of Acquisition & Assistance

9800 South Cass Avenue

Argonne, IL 60439

 

Contact: Marlene Martinez

Email: marlene.martinez@ch.doe.gov

 

Reference number: DE-FOA-0000214

Issue date: 12/22/2009

Response due: 03/29/2010 11:59 PM ES

Edited by Luke_Wilbur

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