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Concept drawing of the new building, from a Northeast aerial view  (Source: Argonne National Laboratory)

Concept drawing of the new building, from a Northwest aerial view  (Source: Argonne National Laboratory)

Concept drawing of the new building, from a Southwest aerial view  (Source: Argonne National Laboratory)

Concept drawing of the new building, from a ground view from the Southwest  (Source: Argonne National Laboratory)
Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Argonne National Laboratory's new lab will help U.S. maintain energy leadership

With other countries like China and Japan increasingly looking to establish themselves as leaders in alternative energy, and with carbon emissions becoming a serious international concern, the U.S. is eager to maintain its lead on the cutting edge of energy research.  Argonne National Laboratories, which we recently caught up with concerning a solar power grant, has just received the first round of U.S. Department of Energy funding for a brand new $95M USD lab that will help the U.S. to develop advanced alternative energy solutions.

The initial funding came in at $8M USD and will fund much of the initial construction of the new lab, dubbed the Energy Sciences Building (ESB).  Construction on the building will begin in 2011. 

Argonne Director Eric Isaacs says the new lab is vitally needed as many of the research center's labs are aging badly.  He states, "The ESB will house the kind of research infrastructure that is necessary to conduct breakthrough science.  Compared to many of Argonne's existing buildings, some of which are more than 50 years old, the ESB will enable highly interactive scientific collaborations by bringing together in one place energy-related scientific research that is presently spread throughout the Argonne campus."

Al Sattelberger, associate laboratory director for Energy Sciences and Engineering highlighted the new lab's agenda, stating, "The work in the ESB will focus on four central themes associated with Argonne's energy security strategy, strengthen our basic research capabilities, and facilitate synergies that enhance both.  The ESB is another step in Argonne's long-range campus modernization plan"

The lab will be a hotbed for materials research.  One of the four key types of research will be energy conversion materials, including photovoltaics and thermal fluids.  A second key objective is to develop more efficient solar power harvesting devices.  A third research focus is to develop better catalysts and materials for fuel cells, considered a potential candidate to drive future vehicles.  A final focus is to improve energy storage solutions, reducing the possibility of interruptions from wind or solar power sources.

The lab is scheduled to be completed in 2014.  Located in the northern section of the ANL campus, the multi-story building will offer 140,000 square feet and offer workspace for an estimated 250 employees.

The new lab comes as part of a sweeping modernization effort by the Office of Science (SC), which oversees Argonne and nine other basic science-oriented national laboratories for the U.S. DOE.  Describes Angela Harvey, director of the Infrastructure, Programs and Projects Division at the DOE Argonne Site Office, "The focus of this modernization effort is major capital investment in the infrastructure to ensure the continued vitality of the national laboratories and to improve the readiness of the infrastructure to support current and future missions of DOE.  This initiative involves all the SC laboratories and includes more than 30 projects totaling more than $2 billion.  The end result will be modern, safe, quality infrastructure that will allow the laboratories to ensure scientific leadership now and in the future."

While Argonne National Laboratory is government-funded, its independently managed by the business UChicago Argonne LLC.  Located in Illinois, near Chicago, the lab cooperates with hundreds of universities on research and employs researchers from over 60 countries.  Research programs include physics, chemistry, electronics, alternative energy, automotive research, and more.

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$95 million is a lot of money...
By TMV192 on 11/18/2009 5:56:59 PM , Rating: 4
to figure out that all you need to do is build the latest generation nuclear energy plants instead of all these low-output, green fad, solutions

RE: $95 million is a lot of money...
By Egglick on 11/18/09, Rating: -1
RE: $95 million is a lot of money...
By ebakke on 11/18/2009 11:00:26 PM , Rating: 3
He was making the point that they don't need to build the facility, and they don't need to do the research; a viable solution exists today. He wasn't claiming this building would generate power.

All of that out of the way, I would like to give you a virtual high-five for using doofus! ::smack!::

RE: $95 million is a lot of money...
By FaaR on 11/19/2009 12:27:37 AM , Rating: 3
Of course they/we need to do the research, you smacktard.

Since when was it ever bad to push the envelope of human knowledge? Apparantly since america became stupid and complacent, it would seem. Well I got news for you guys, stupidity can be cured. All that's needed is you educate yourselves.

So I suggest you ignoramuses get cracking.

By Denithor on 11/19/2009 8:08:51 AM , Rating: 3
Actually, no. Ignorance can be cured through education, stupidity is forever.

RE: $95 million is a lot of money...
By ebakke on 11/19/2009 9:02:52 AM , Rating: 2
I never claimed we shouldn't be doing research, or trying to advance humanity. I was merely attempting to further explain the intended meaning of the poster before me.

No need to be a dick about it.

RE: $95 million is a lot of money...
By CheesePoofs on 11/18/2009 10:41:40 PM , Rating: 2
Even with recycling, there's only a limited amount of fissile material on the earth. Renewable energy has to become the norm at some point.

RE: $95 million is a lot of money...
By ayat101 on 11/19/2009 10:38:15 AM , Rating: 2
You could not be MORE WRONG.

Thorium can supply enough energy for hundreds of thousands of years. Thorium technology is VIABLE for power production RIGHT NOW. There were working thorium reactors decades ago. All that needs to happen is some funding and engineering effort to scale up the ractors to commercial sizes and to certify them for use... and yet with the access to this practically unlimited power, we are doing NOTHING about it. Mind BOGGLES.

If after those hundreds of thousands of years when throium runs out we still have not learnt how to use fusion and/or economically mine asteroids for even more thorium (or find something else altogether)... our species does not deserve to survive.

SO, we actually may NEVER need renewables.

RE: $95 million is a lot of money...
By MozeeToby on 11/19/2009 10:48:45 AM , Rating: 2
Except for the fact that, you know, there really isn't a limited amount at all. If we never opened another Uranium mine, we're still fine. Sea water, for example, is 3 parts per billion Uranium. That doesn't sound like much but the oceans are quite large and it ends up being about 4.6 billion tonnes, it's just slightly more expensive to extract it than it is to mine for it. With reprocessing, that's enough to last several thousand years.

Now, thorium... there's 3-5 times more thorium on the planet than Uranium and it has nearly as much energy as uranium.

RE: $95 million is a lot of money...
By ayat101 on 11/19/2009 11:06:02 AM , Rating: 2
Thorium has more energy because it van be used/"burnt" at 100% of the fuel. Uranium can not... plus only a rare isotope is useful (outside of breeder reactors)... plus the uranium cycle produces some hard to deal with waste, while a thorium reactor (properly configured) does not.

RE: $95 million is a lot of money...
By Strunf on 11/19/2009 6:16:23 AM , Rating: 3
$95 millions is pocket money when compared to the amount it was spent researching your beloved nuclear energy power plants.

By your reasoning why did we even get to the nuclear energy altogether we could have stayed with coal and petrol energy.

RE: $95 million is a lot of money...
By jiminmpls on 11/19/2009 9:23:35 AM , Rating: 2
Nuclear power is too expensive to matter. The projected cost for two 1,117-MWe Westinghouse AP1000 at Turkey Point, FL is $12-17 billion. As if that weren't bad enough, no nuclear power plant has ever been built on time or on budget. The average cost overarun in the USA is over 200%.

Expanding the capacity of existing nuclear plants makes economic sense. Buidling new nukes doesn't.

RE: $95 million is a lot of money...
By nafhan on 11/19/2009 9:54:02 AM , Rating: 2
The average cost overrun in the USA is over 200%.
Assuming that number is correct, it'd be interesting to see how much of this is due to unnecessary legislation, environmental impact studies, etc.

RE: $95 million is a lot of money...
By ayat101 on 11/19/2009 10:40:24 AM , Rating: 2
The numbers are NOT correct. He overstimated them by a factor like 4 or there abouts. It's BS.

RE: $95 million is a lot of money...
By nafhan on 11/19/2009 9:50:08 AM , Rating: 3
Although I'm a proponent of nuclear power, research in basic materials science is always a good thing. I kind of get the feeling that the "clean power", "save the environmen" stuff is being touted mostly as a way to get additional funding. Research is a much better way for the government to spend money than bailouts, especiallly since government funding is about the only way to get research into things that aren't immediately commercially viable.

By Davester on 11/18/2009 6:42:17 PM , Rating: 2
Here is another waste of money. What they need is to buy quality lab equipment to do quality work. And if they need to expand into another building, then that's different. I work for the government, and I frequently see waste where someone just wants something new rather then what they need. This looks to be another great example of "Ego Building".

By 67STANG on 11/19/2009 2:35:50 AM , Rating: 2
You work for the government and are critical of $95M being wasted? Really?

Aren't they currently trying to figure out a way to waste $1 Trillion dollars on something else...?

By Davester on 11/19/2009 10:06:11 AM , Rating: 2
I'm critical of all waste! Do you think that $1 Trillion dollars is spent on one thing? Really? It's really made up of thousands of projects just like this. Just think about this. How many different research labs are there is the just the Federal Government, now add in all the Colleges that receive Federal funding. We already have hundreds if not thousands of these buildings. Do you think we really need to build another $95M research center?

If you can stop these types of pork projects, you'll start to make a huge dent in that $1 Trillion.

By geddarkstorm on 11/19/2009 1:23:32 PM , Rating: 2
Except, new facilities with more advanced capabilities are required for many types of research. This building could have vastly improved ventilation and capacity to deal with toxic materials better than the last. It could have better wiring for higher powered experiments, better vibration canceling for more accurate readings in sensitive experiments (building vibration can screw up research), and so much more. A new facility can greatly expand the types of volumes of science available to a researcher by supporting quality lab equipment which the previous building couldn't.

Really, considering how far technology has advanced, it's about time they had a state of the art facility to spearhead more research.

By corduroygt on 11/18/09, Rating: 0
RE: Politics
By surt on 11/18/2009 11:51:20 PM , Rating: 2
The government gives out over a trillion a year. 20 billion should be expected to go to each state (well, ignoring population factors ...). 95M could be considered a small share of the fair stake Ill deserves.

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