ORNL to Build New Facility with Recovery Act Funding

Oak Ridge National Laboratory officials announced on March 23 that construction will start in eight to 10 weeks on a major research facility made possible by $71.2 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 from funding allocated under the Recovery Act to the Department of Energy's Office of Science. The funds will support an array of Office of Science-sponsored construction, laboratory infrastructure, and research projects across the nation.

"Leadership in science remains vital to America's economic prosperity, energy security, and global competitiveness," said 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."

ORNL Director Thom Mason said the first installment of stimulus funds released this week by DOE will be used to accelerate construction of a new chemical and materials sciences research building designed to replace an aging facility that contains a number of inefficient laboratories that are in need of repair. Built in 1952, the current facility is plagued with high energy costs, leaking underground pipes, and unreliable utilities.

Mason said designs are nearly complete and contractors have been selected for the new 160,000 square-foot facility that will house some 200 researchers working on projects that include solar batteries, corrosion resistant materials, and superconducting transmission lines.

"There is an emphasis on moving quickly, and we are already making plans to move the existing parking lot and fence the construction area," Mason said.

As a part of ORNL's modernization standards, the new facility will be LEED certified by the Green Building Council. The lab is managed by UT-Battelle for DOE's Office of Science.