Here comes some R and D: nanotech in carville

Some brave Angelenos will be working on nano-tech for combatting global warming. Yes, right there amid freeways and palpable smog and all the gas-burning cars in Los Angeles, some engineers will be using federal money to find nano-ways to more efficiently capture solar energy.

Some brave Angelenos will be working on nano-tech for combatting global warming. Yes, right there amid freeways and palpable smog and all the gas-burning cars in Los Angeles, some engineers will be using federal money to find nano-ways to more efficiently capture solar energy. Also, they're looking for nano-tech breakthroughs in electricity storage. This will be crucial if the world uses more and more renewable energy that is sporadic like wind and solar and tidal. And they'll work on ways to capture and store greenhouse gases.

The recipient of a multimillion-dollar grant over five years: this energy research center will be at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science. The new lab will be called an Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC) and it's being funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. One of 46 EFRCs!

JUST ONE OF DOZENS

UCLA's center is only one of seven in California. That's fine, California uses more energy than most nations on earth. Of the 46 selected, 31 will be led by universities, 12 by DOE national laboratories, two by nonprofit organizations and one by a corporate research laboratory. DOE says these new centers were selected from among a pool of some 260 applicants based on a rigorous merit review process utilizing outside panels composed of scientific experts.

Here's the DOE's press release on the total of over $700-million to be spent on the research centers. Here's the list of the newly selected centers. Besides California, other big winners are blue states New York (5 EFRCs) and Illinois (4) which is the home state of a very powerful person in Washington D.C. these days.

The new EFRCs will be working in conjunction with the existing National Energy Research Laboratories that date back to the 1970s. There are five National Energy Technology Labs, with the main office in Pittsburgh. There is the separate National Renewable Energy Lab: HQ in Golden, with offices in Washington. And there's the Idaho National Lab (INL) in Idaho Falls.

How quickly have researchers moved into green tech? INL was once largely nuclear energy-focused. Now they have a slew of alternative energy projects, some in crucial areas. Like the "freedom car." Their website says: "Through managing projects such as DOE's "FreedomCAR" and Advanced Vehicle Testing Activity, the department is at the forefront of developing and testing the next generation of hybrid and electric vehicle batteries and other technologies. Its goal is to develop and test technologies that can lead to emission - and petroleum-free cars and light trucks. All the research being conducted has the common goal of reducing the consumption of imported foreign oil."