Projects Aim to Bring R&D Funding & Innovation to All Parts of America

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced $22 million in funding for nine projects covering a range of energy research topics from grid integration, solar energy, wind energy, and advanced manufacturing. These projects are located in communities traditionally underserved by federal research and development (R&D) funding so that all parts of the country are central to efforts to solve the climate crisis and meet President Biden’s goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“America’s toughest problems, from tackling the climate crisis to curing diseases, are too big to not be tapping the expertise of the best and brightest scientific minds in every pocket of our country,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “Today’s announcements will spur more technological advancements and job creation—particularly in regions that historically don’t see enough of the benefits of these investments.”

This funding—provided through DOE’s Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) program—is intended to improve geographic distribution of federal R&D funding, strengthen research capabilities in underserved regions of the country, and enable institutions in those regions to better compete for federal R&D funding. There are 28 jurisdictions designated under EPSCoR, including 25 states and three U.S. territories.

“Today’s announcement is welcome news for West Virginia University and is further acknowledgment of the innovative and game-changing research conducted by its students and faculty. This significant funding will advance the fusion research agenda outlined in my bipartisan Energy Act of 2020, and underscores the important role that EPSCoR plays in ensuring that research dollars continue to flow into universities and other institutions in rural and underserved states,” said U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “I’m thrilled to see the Department of Energy continue to invest at WVU and I will continue to push for funding that supports research projects in the Mountain State.”

“As a champion of the DOE EPSCoR program, I am thrilled to see this program up and running and expanding the research capabilities within our state. Investments like this help our students and professors at WVU reach their full potential,” said U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito. “WVU and other higher education institution in West Virginia prove that our research and development capabilities are world class, and I could not be more proud of their efforts. I will continue to do all I can to support their efforts on the federal level.”

“West Virginia is becoming a leader in advancing research on the future of energy,” said U.S. Representative David B. McKinley, P.E. “We can play a central role in developing the technology to reduce carbon emissions and use our energy more efficiently. WVU’s work in this area will lead to major technological breakthroughs, and can help create and preserve energy jobs in our state.”

Projects selected in today’s announcement cover a wide array of topics, including fundamental work in chemistry and materials science, fusion energy, grid integration, solar energy, wind energy, sensors for energy conversion, and advanced manufacturing.

  • Boise State University, Boise, ID ($5,000,000): Addressing information needed to build dye components for quantum computing.
  • Montana State University, Bozeman, MT ($3,361,000): Working on the identification of enzymes and pathways that allow a class of bacteria known as methanogens to bio-mine iron, nickel, molybdenum, cobalt, and sulfur from pyrite mineral sources.
  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE ($2,940,000): Developing and applying new experimental and computational tools to understand dynamics of chemical reactions in organic materials.
  • University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK ($2,018,000): Modernizing the power grid to fully accommodate renewable energy sources.
  • University of Maine, Orono, ME ($2,340,000): Preparing sensors to monitor and control energy conversion systems.
  • University of Nevada - Reno, Reno, NV ($2,493,068): Developing an understanding to build stable controllable spin systems for quantum information sciences and quantum computing.
  • University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI ($1,245,227): Building and testing response systems to protect floating wind turbines and maximize power production during difficult weather conditions.
  • University of South Alabama, Mobile, AL ($999,948): Expanding knowledge of specialized liquids to enhance plastic recycling and reuse in advanced manufacturing processes. 
  • West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV ($2,250,000): Characterizing ionized gases or plasmas whose applications range from understanding solar flares, to advanced rocket propulsion, to building fusion power systems.

Projects were chosen by competitive peer review under a DOE Funding Opportunity Announcement for EPSCoR Implementation Grants. The DOE EPSCoR program is managed by the Department’s Office of Science through its Office of Basic Energy Sciences (BES). Projects announced today are selections for negotiation of financial award.

Planned funding will total approximately $22 million in Fiscal Year 2021 dollars for two-year projects. A list of projects can be found on the BES homepage under the heading, “What’s New.”