Berkeley lab to receive US$115.8m in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced that the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) will receive US$115.8 million from President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The funds are part of $1.2 billion announced by Secretary of Energy Steven Chu today from funding allocated under the Recovery Act to DOE’s Office of Science. The funds will support an array of Office of Science-sponsored construction, laboratory infrastructure, and research projects across the nation. The Secretary made the announcement during a visit to Brookhaven National Laboratory, in Upton, NY.

“Leadership in science remains vital to America’s economic prosperity, energy security, and global competitiveness,” said Secretary Chu. “These projects not only provide critically needed short-term economic relief but also represent a strategic investment in our nation’s future. They will create thousands of jobs and breathe new life into many local economies, while helping to accelerate new technology development, renew our scientific and engineering workforce, and modernize our nation’s scientific infrastructure.”

The $1.2 billion in funding announced by Secretary Chu is the first installment of a total of $1.6 billion allocated to the DOE Office of Science by Congress under the Recovery Act legislation. Officials are working on details remaining to enable approval and release of the balance of $371 million.

Funds directed to Berkeley Lab are to be used to accelerate construction of a user support building for the Advanced Light Source, one of the nation’s premier research sources of x-ray and ultraviolet light, and provide additional support for research in the fields of advanced materials, energy and biology. Funds will also be provided for a laser-based accelerator facility called “BELLA,” (Berkeley Lab Laser Accelerator). With its ability to deliver enormous energy boosts to charged particles over extremely short distances, laser-based acceleration technology could be the future of high-energy physics. There are also funds to complete the demolition of an obsolete accelerator facility, the Bevatron, which was decommissioned in 1993, plus money for laboratory improvements under a seismic safety initiative.

In addition to these funds, ESNet, a high-speed network serving thousands of DOE scientists and collaborators worldwide that is hosted at Berkeley Lab, expects to receive a portion of the $69 million that is being directed towards the creation of “a national scale, prototype 100-gigabit per second data network linking research centers across the
nation.” This funding will enhance the Office of Science’s networking capabilities and benefit the commercial telecommunications sector.

“This is good news for Berkeley Lab and for our local communities,” said interim-Berkeley Lab Director Paul Alivisatos. “These funds will enable the Laboratory to make long-needed improvements of our infrastructure and invest in seismic safety upgrades. This in turn should generate new jobs and provide other boosts to our local economic recovery efforts. Local economies should also benefit from the new avenues of research
that ARRA funds will support.”

Said Office of Science Acting Director Patricia Dehmer, “This is a very timely infusion of strength for American science, in an era when other nations have been expanding their support for science and R&D with an eye to global competition. We are poised to move aggressively on these projects - many already existing, some new - to ensure maximum jobs impact and scientific payoff. At the same time, we have put in place controls to ensure a high level of accountability, transparency, and responsibility in the deployment of these taxpayer dollars.”

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