Thirty-two projects—most headed by universities—were awarded grants of various amounts totaling $100 million by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs).

The projects were selected from more than 200 proposals. Of the projects, 10 were new while the other 22 received renewed funding. Awards ranged from $2 million to $4 million per year per center for up to four fiscal years, subject to a progress review in year two.

“Today, we are mobilizing some of our most talented scientists to join forces and pursue the discoveries and breakthroughs that will lay the foundation for our nation’s energy future,” Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said on June 18 as part of the announcement for this second round of funding.

The EFRC program aims to accelerate transformative discovery, combining the talents and creativity of the national scientific workforce with a powerful new generation of tools for penetrating, understanding, and manipulating matter on the atomic and molecular scales. In August 2009, DOE established 46 centers involving universities, national laboratories, nonprofit organizations, and for-profit firms, singly or in partnerships, and funded them with $2 million to $5 million per year for a five-year initial award period.

Since their establishment, the EFRCs have produced 5,400 peer-reviewed scientific publications and hundreds of inventions at various stages of the patent process. The second round of funding is expected to help lay the scientific groundwork for advances in solar energy, electrical energy storage, carbon capture and sequestration, materials and chemistry by design, biosciences, and extreme environments.

The awards come on the heels of a May 21 announcement of $10 million being awarded to six projects developing thermochemical energy storage systems designed to store the sun’s energy at high densities in the form of chemical bonds for use in utility-scale concentrating solar power facilities.

Aaron Larson, associate editor (@AaronL_Power, @POWERmagazine)