Federal Agencies Reveal ARRA Projects

Over the past few months, the Department of Energy (DOE), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and National Science Foundation (NSF) have announced new details about their programs funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) (see IBO 2/28/09). This article covers programs from these three agencies that are expected to benefit the purchase and development of analytical instruments.


In total, the DOE received $38.7 billion in ARRA funding. As of June 12, the DOE has allocated $4.4 billion of this funding, and paid out $94.56 million.

In March, Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced $1.2 billion in funding for the DOE’s Office of Science (OS) (see chart, pg. 7). The majority of recovery funding for the OS supports physics and science programs. OS funding of $830.2 million will go toward projects involving construction, equipment acquisition and research at the 10 National Laboratory facilities.

Of this funding, $688.4 million has already been allocated to these labs. Some labs have released information on how they plan on spending this money. Argonne National Laboratory, which has been allocated $13.1 million, will use some of its funding for refurbishing and acquiring equipment for the Center for Nanoscale Materials (CNM). The CNM announced in its June newsletter that this money will be used to purchase a two-color NIR transient absorption and emission spectrometer and a field-emission transmission electron microscope. Brookehaven National Lab has been allocated $184.3 million, $18.67 million of which will go toward the construction of a $66.8 million, 80,000 gross square-foot Interdisciplinary Science Laboratory Building. The Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) announced that much of its $71.2 million in funding will be used for lab modernization, including a new Chemical and Materials Science Laboratory. Construction of the $95 million facility, which will contain 50 labs to house 300 researchers, began at the end of May.

The OS has allocated $330 million for its major scientific user facilities (see chart, pg. 7), including the Atmospheric Radiation Management Climate Research Facility (ACRF) and the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL) at Pacific Northwest National Lab. The ACRF announced that within the next 18 months it will use its $60 million in funding to purchase 143 pieces of equipment, including IR and solar spectrometers. The EMSL, which was allocated $124 million, will use $60 million in funding for equipment. Instruments to be purchased include NMRs, MS systems and high-powered microscopes. According to the DOE contract with the EMSL, approximately 35 pieces of equipment will be bought.

The OS will also spend $277 million to create 46 new centers within its Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC) program. EFRCs are partnerships between public and private institutions that conduct research related to a number of “Grand Challenges” identified by the OS, including the design of innovative materials and nanotechnology research. Currently, there are 64 EFRCs, which were selected from public and private institutions. All ERFCs will receive between $2 million and $5 million per year for a five-year period. EFRC awards can be used for capital investments in instruments and infrastructure.

Outside the OS, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE) Office of the Biomass Program will receive $800 million in ARRA funding for biofuels research. Fundamental biofuels research will receive $110 million: $25 million for the expansion of sustainability research at OS Bioenergy Research Centers; $35 million in competitive grants for consortiums to develop infrastructure compatible with biofuels; and $50 million in competitive grants for algal biofuel consortiums. Although the DOE has not yet issued funding announcements for two R&D biomass programs—one for ethanol-blend infrastructure and the other to create consortiums for algal biofuels and advanced fungible biofuels—it has issued an advance announcement. In it, the DOE recommends that consortiums use funding from these two programs for “best-in-class” technologies for R&D in feedstock logistics, conversion, production and infrastructure.

The EERE has also announced $467 million for a geothermal and solar energy technology acceleration program. As part of this program, $51.5 million will be used for photovoltaic technology development and $25.6 million will go toward centralizing solar power R&D at DOE labs. The latter program will bolster DOE lab capabilities in testing and evaluation for the solar industry. The EERE’s $256 million Energy Efficiency program will allocate $50 million for researching advanced materials that support clean energy, which includes nano-materials R&D.

As for the DOE’s new ARPA-E program, it will support initial-phase R&D for early-stage and late-stage transformational technologies with $150 million in ARRA funding. Early-stage transformational technology projects demonstrate the importance and feasibility of developing such a technology to other institutions. Late-stage transformational technology projects develop components, hardware and software so that a project may transition to industrial development. ARPA-E awards will range from $500,000 to $10 million, but the majority will be between $2 million and $5 million. According to the DOE, projects requiring up to $20 million will be reviewed, but are unlikely to receive grants. Due to its novelty, the ARPA-E only requires that projects reduce greenhouse gas emissions, enhance energy security, bolster American science capabilities and spend ARRA funds quickly. Cost sharing is required, and the recipient of funds must provide at least 20% of the R&D funding requested. ARPA-E is expected to release additional program-specific announcements in the future.


The NIST was granted $580 million under the ARRA and has announced new details of its two main ARRA-funding mechanisms: the Scientific and Technical Research and Services (STRS) fund, and the Construction of Research Facilities (CRF) fund. For the STRS, which will receive $220 million, the only grant application released thus far is for the $35 million Competitive Measurement Science Priority Areas program (see table, pg. 4). Other ARRA-funded programs under the STRS that have yet to announce grant information include $119 million in competitively funded grants for high-cost research and measurement equipment and $5 million for small business competitive contracts.

The CRF program will receive $360 million, of which $68.5 million will go to performance and capacity enhancements, and equipping the labs at the NIST facility in Boulder, Colorado. NIST facilities in need of renovation will receive $39 million in funding. The CRF will also fund $180 million in competitive grants (see table, pg. 4), of which $60 million will go toward construction grants submitted in 2008 that did not receive funding.


The NSF received $3 billion in ARRA funding, but has yet to spend any of it, although it has designated nearly $310 million of it. The Academic Research Infrastructure (ARI-R2) program (see table, pg. 4) is expected to yield 120 grants, approximately 100 of which should be for amounts ranging from $250,000 to $2 million. Six to ten grants will be for amounts between $2 million and $5 million, and three to five grants will be in amounts between $5 million and $10 million. Grants for less than $2 million will run for three years, while grants for more than $2 million will run for up to four years. For the Major Research Instrumentation (MRI-R2) program (see table, pg. 4), proposals from PhD-granting institutions and nondegree-granting organizations must request at least $100,000, while nonPhD-granting institutions and organizations in the mathematical sciences or social, behavioral and economic sciences do not have a lower limit. The NSF expects $40 million of MRI-R2 funding will be used for purchasing or developing “mid-scale” instruments that cost between $2 million and $6 million.

Pie Chart: Allocation of $1.2 Billion of DOE Office of Science (OS) ARRA Funding

Synchrotron Light Source-II Construction $150

Selected Lab Construction and Modernization $123

Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Construction $65

Energy Frontier Research Centers $277

Academic Scientist Support Fund $90

Online Research Data Network $69

Office of Science User Facility Equipment and Operations $330

DOE National Laboratory Infrastructure $125

Unannounced $371

< | >