FY 2013 Request for DOE Office of Science and ARPA-E

“Investing in science and innovation to promote our nation’s economic prosperity” and“Accelerating the transformation of America’s energy system and securing U.S. leadership in clean energy technologies” are identified as two of three priorities in the FY 2013 Department of Energy request sent to Congress on Monday.  The department is requesting $27,155.1 million, an increase of 3.2 percent or $855.5 million for the new fiscal year.  Of that, $4,992.1 million would be allocated to the Office of Science, with another $350.0 million requested for the Advanced Research Projects-Agency.

Office of Science:

Introductory material (page 9) in the “Budget Highlights” submitted as part of DOE’s Congressional Budget Justification for Fiscal Year 2013 describes the emphasis on research on new clean energy technologies that the Office of Science (SC) will be making:

“In FY 2013, SC continues to support fundamental research for scientific discovery, but today our country needs to move strongly to solve our energy problems. Therefore, the central theme of this year’s budget increases in SC is research directed at approaches to creating new technologies for a clean energy future that address competing demands on our environment. These efforts, coordinated with the DOE technology programs and with input from the scientific community and industry, will emphasize research underpinning advances in non-carbon emitting energy sources, carbon capture and sequestration, transportation and fuel switching, transmission and energy storage, efficiency, and critical materials for energy applications.”

Material science funding is emphasized:

“Advances in clean energy, particularly non-carbon energy sources, frequently are driven by advances in material science whether it be inventing a new material or understanding the interface between materials or the chemical reactions of materials. Therefore, SC places a strong emphasis on searches for new materials and the characterization of their properties relevant to solar photovoltaics, batteries or storage elements, or for active responses such as carbon capture and sequestration. SC will advance materials discovery and characterization through predictive modeling using high performance computing and using the world-leading characterization capabilities at our national Laboratories.”

Bioenergy is also discussed:

“SC will advance genomics-based research creating synthetic biology tools to underpin bio-based energy solutions such as biofuels through the Bioenergy Research Centers, which are nationally recognized for their advances. SC will place additional emphasis on finding alternative approaches to carbon capture, which is fundamental to our energy future. We will continue our Energy Frontier Research Centers, which are bringing a new approach to university-based research in energy technologies. Finally, SC supports two Energy Innovation Hubs, one for fuels from sunlight and the other for batteries and energy storage.”

Foundational science is described as follows:

“The budget request also provides for foundational science in condensed matter and materials physics, chemistry, biology, climate and environmental sciences, applied mathematics, computational and computer science, high energy physics, nuclear physics, plasma physics, and fusion energy sciences, and it provides for research facilities and capabilities that keep U.S. researchers at the forefront of science.

The request supports targeted increases in computational materials and chemistry by design and in integrated application-hardware-software co-design for achieving Exascale and positioning the U.S. to secure a competitive advantage in high-tech industries and maintain international leadership in scientific computing. Underlying these investments is the education and training, through core research activities, of thousands of scientists and engineers who contribute to the skilled scientific workforce needed for the 21st century innovation economy.”

The “Budget Highlights” has a six-page description of the ten programs supported by the Office of Science starting on page 18.  Brief program highlights and significant funding changes are provided. 

Total Office of Science funding would increase 2.4 percent or $118.4 million from $4,873.6 million to $4,992.1 million.

The following are requested changes in funding levels for physics-related programs:

Advanced Scientific Computing funding would increase 3.3 percent or $14.7 million from $440.9 million to $455.6 million.

Basic Energy Sciences funding would increase 6.6 percent or $111.5 million from $1,688.1 million to $1,799.6 million.

Biological and Environmental Research funding would increase 2.6 percent or $15.8 million from $609.6 million to $625.4 million.

Fusion Energy Sciences funding would decline 0.7 percent or $2.7 million from $401.0 million to $398.3 million.

High Energy Physics funding would decline 1.8 percent or $14.3 million from $790.9 million to $776.5 million.

Nuclear Physics funding would decline 3.7 percent or $20.5 million from $547.4 million to $526.9 million.



The “Budget Highlights” document provides three pages of information on the FY 2013 request for Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy, starting on page 24.  In discussing its current portfolio, the document explains that ARPA-E programs focus on:

“New Areas of Science and Technology - for example, ARPA-E’s current Electrofuels program. The goal of this program is to create a biological non-photosynthetic process to produce liquid fuels. This is not being done anywhere else in the government, and, if successful, could create an entirely new industry.

“New Generation Technology - for example, ARPA-E’s current program called Batteries for Electrical Energy Storage in Transportation, or BEEST. While DOE and most outside R&D is focused on lithium batteries, ARPA-E is looking for other battery chemistries that, if successful, would yield batteries that are less expensive and provide longer range and storage capabilities than today’s approaches.”

ARPA-E funding would increase 27.3 percent or $75.0 million from $275.0 million to $350.0 million.

Originally published in FYI, The American Institute of Physics Bulletin of Science Policy News.