The US Administration, through the Department of Energy (DOE), has announced funding of $1.5 billion from President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act to build and upgrade the US national laboratories. The resources will upgrade scientific facilities, modernise infrastructure, and address deferred maintenance projects at the laboratories managed by DOE’s Office of Science.

Secretary of Energy Jennifer M Granholm said the laboratories will receive “one of the largest ever investments in national laboratory infrastructure to develop advanced energy technologies and ground-breaking tools like Argonne National Laboratory’s powerful new supercomputer, Aurora, that we need to advance new frontiers, like modelling climate change and developing vaccines”.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory is to receive funding of $490.9 million to support continued advances in exascale computing, continue progress on next-generation neutron science capabilities, advance fusion energy, and to expand its capacity to produce isotopes.

DOE's Idaho National Laboratory was already allocated $150 million in October under the Inflation Reduction Act for infrastructure improvements. This will support ageing facilities important for nuclear energy research and development, including the Advanced Test Reactor and Materials Fuels Complex, both of which have been operational for more than 50 years. DOE said a further $15.5 million for the national labs will be distributed in January 2023.

DOE said decades of underfunding across its network of national laboratories have “threatened America’s scientific and technological competitive edge over adversarial nations like China and Russia”.  

The new funding seeks to accelerate ongoing facility upgrade projects and national laboratory infrastructure projects.

The Inflation Reduction Act will provide funding for:

  • Advanced scientific computing research facilities
  • Basic energy sciences projects
  • High energy physics construction and major items of equipment projects
  • Fusion energy science construction and major items of equipment projects
  • Nuclear physics construction and major items of equipment projects
  • Isotope research and development facilities
  • Science laboratory infrastructure projects 

“Building on the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to innovation, the funding announced today has already been distributed to selected projects to address a wide variety of long-term priorities and accelerate ongoing projects for critical facilities and other infrastructure.”

Image: Argonne National Laboratory’s supercomputer, Aurora (courtesy of USDOE)