America's laboratories are due for an upgrade in the form of a massive funding allocation. The money is set to support new hiring, facilities upgrades, and research in new technologies in areas like computing, fusion energy, grid technologies, and others.
The scale of the program is being cheered in science communities as a needed boost for the national laboratories.
The U.S. DOE announced $1.5 billion for fiscal year 2022 to build and upgrade scientific facilities, modernize infrastructure, and address deferred maintenance projects at its Office of Science-managed national laboratories.
The funding comes as part of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) of 2022.
Big winners include the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, which will get $490.9 million to support continued advances in exascale computing (capable of calculating at least "1018 IEEE 754 Double Precision 64-bit operations"), continue progress on next-generation neutron science capabilities, advance fusion energy, and expand capacity to produce isotopes for economic, energy, and national security.
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, CA, will get an additional $196.6 million to deliver greater supercomputing resources to the scientific community, upgrade their world class X-ray light source, deliver new capabilities for nanoscale science, and continue progress on next-generation physics experiments that will unlock new fundamental discoveries.
If you're considering a career shift into the hard sciences, this would be a great time to apply for a job. Many of the national labs anticipate hiring pushes to support new research.
Simultaneous to the laboratories funding, the administration released a report under the Net-Zero Game Changers Initiative identifying research priorities. The new report includes 37 game-changing R&D opportunities identified across Federal agencies. The priorities include opportunities in a variety of technologies and aim ultimately to transform the country's energy infrastructure, with a goal of making the country carbon neutral by 2050 and reducing greenhouse gases by at least 50% by 2030.
Some of the technologies identified as priorities include Fusion Energy at Scale, which could provide abundant, clean, reliable electricity while meeting a large fraction of electricity demand. Efficient Building Heating and Cooling, which is responsible for more than half of residential building energy use and nearly a fifth of commercial building energy use.
Other priorities include aviation. Greenhouse gas emissions from air travel are expected to grow in the United States and around the world but could be mitigated with new carbon-neutral fuels, advanced biofuels, and electrification (including battery electric and fuel cell electric concepts).