Energy Frontier Research Centers
Argonne pulls together science and engineering leaders across institutional boundaries, allowing them to take a collaborative approach to specific scientific challenges.

In 2009, the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science/Office of Basic Energy Sciences established the Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs). These EFRCs are composed of small teams of leading university and national laboratory researchers focused on solving specific scientific problems that are blocking clean energy development. The outcome of such concentrated collaborations will bring about breakthroughs that enhance national energy security and protect the global environment.

Two EFRCs are housed at Argonne, the Center for Electrical Energy Storage and the Institute for Atom-Efficient Chemical Transformations. Argonne is a key partner in five other Centers: the Argonne-Northwestern Solar Energy Research Center; the Center for Emergent Superconductivity; the Fluid Interface Reactions, Structures and Transport Center; the Inorganometallic Catalyst Design Center; and the NorthEast Center for Chemical Energy Storage.

Argonne's integrated and flexible approach to research and discovery is ideal for EFRC work because we pull together science and engineering leaders across institutional boundaries, allowing them to take a collaborative approach to specific scientific challenges.

CEES: Center for Electrical Energy Storage

The Center for Electrical Energy Storage (CEES) at Argonne is researching the limitations of today's electrochemical energy storage technologies for transportation, residential and commercial use. Energy storage devices, such as batteries and supercapacitors, have been available for many years, yet the processes that affect their operation and performance are not fully understood. With new knowledge, scientists are bridging gaps in current technologies, inventing new ways to improve energy storage performance, designing new materials and storage architectures, and meeting future energy storage requirements. CEES research focuses on advancing lithium-ion battery science and technology, as these batteries offer the best opportunity for rapid technological enhancement.

CEES leverages U.S. Department of Energy user facilities at Argonne including the Advanced Photon Source, the Center for Nanoscale Materials, the Electron Microscopy Center for Materials Research, and the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility.

Argonne is the lead laboratory for CEES, with Michael Thackeray, an Argonne Distinguished Fellow and Senior Scientist, as CEES Director. The Center's other members are Northwestern University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The Center is receiving $19 million over five years.

IACT: Institute for Atom-Efficient Chemical Transformations

The Institute for Atom-Efficient Chemical Transformations (IACT) at Argonne employs a multidisciplinary approach to discover key catalytic conversions that could improve the efficiency of producing fuels from biomass. IACT is finding ways to achieve control and efficiency of chemical conversions comparable to those in nature. IACT is synthesizing new, complex, multisite, multifunctional catalytic materials that offer new models for catalysis. The center draws from Argonne’s advanced computation and modeling capabilities to interpret, understand, and optimize experimental results to advance catalytic science.

IACT makes use of Argonne's world-class facilities including the Advanced Photon Source, Center for Nanoscale Materials Virtual Fabrication Lab and the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility; as well as the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Institute for Interfacial Catalysis at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Argonne is the lead organization, with Argonne chemist Christopher Marshall as principal investigator and IACT director. The Institute's other members include Northwestern University, Purdue University, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The Institute is receiving $19 million over five years.

ANSER: Argonne-Northwestern Solar Energy Research Center

The Argonne-Northwestern Solar Energy Research Center (ANSER) is housed at Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill. with the mission of understanding the molecules, materials and methods necessary to create more efficient technologies for solar fuels and electricity production. ANSER is achieving this vision by designing and synthesizing new nanoscale architectures and studying them to deepen the understanding of basic solar energy conversion phenomena. The union of synthesis, measurement, theory and engineering allow ANSER to create exceptional new energy conversion systems. Argonne is partnering with ANSER in these efforts.

CES: Center for Emergent Superconductivity

Located at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York, the Center for Emergent Superconductivity (CES) is advancing the frontier of understanding and control of the materials, mechanisms, and critical currents of superconductors, including existing and new materials, and communicating Center and other research results throughout national and international communities. Argonne is partnering with CES in these efforts.

FIRST: The Fluid Interface Reactions, Structures and Transport Center

The Fluid Interface Reactions, Structures and Transport Center addresses another aspect of electrical energy storage by developing greater understanding and models of the nanoscale environment at fluid-solid interfaces - which is a key environment in batteries. The center is led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Argonne's effort is led by Paul Fenter.

ICDC: Inorganometallic Catalyst Design Center

The Inorganometallic Catalyst Design Center is newly formed to design materials and processes for energy-efficient conversion of shale gas components. The University of Minnesota is heading the effort, with Argonne's contribution led by Olle Heinonen.

NECCES: The NorthEast Center for Chemical Energy Storage

The NorthEast Center for Chemical Energy Storage looks at the transformations that occur in an electrode composite structure over the course of a battery's lifetime. Understanding these changes helps open avenues to new battery chemistries - and thus longer-lasting, safer, better batteries. Led by SUNY Binghamton, the center's Argonne efforts is led by Karena Chapman.