Northwestern University will be home to two of the 46 new Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs) funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science. The Department of Energy plans to fund the Northwestern centers at a level of $19 million each over a five-year period, said the University in a prepared statement.


In addition to the Northwestern centers, University researchers will also be involved in collaborations with six other EFRCs, including two based at Argonne National Laboratory. Preliminary estimates show this could provide Northwestern with additional funding of up to $12 million, bringing total EFRC funding at the University to more than $50 million, said the University.


The EFRCs, which will pursue advanced scientific research on energy, are being established at universities, national laboratories, nonprofit organizations and private firms across the nation.


One of the EFRCs will be part of the existing Argonne-Northwestern Solar Energy Research Center, and its goal is to revolutionize the design, synthesis and control of molecules, materials and processes in order to dramatically improve conversion of sunlight into electricity and fuels.


The second EFRC’s mission is to discover, understand and control efficient chemical pathways for the conversion of coal and biomass into chemicals and fuels.


 These centers will mobilize the enormous talents and skills of our nation’s scientific workforce in pursuit of the breakthroughs that are essential to make alternative and renewable energy truly viable as large-scale replacements for fossil fuels, said Secretary of Energy Steven Chu.