Impacts (823KB) The BES program supports basic research that underpins a broad range of energy technologies. Research in materials sciences and engineering leads to the development of materials that improve the efficiency, economy, environmental acceptability, and safety of energy generation, conversion, transmission, storage, and use. For example, advances in superconductivity have been introduced commercially in a number of demonstration projects around the country. Improvements in alloy design for high temperature applications are used in commercial furnaces and in green technologies such as lead-free solder. Research in chemistry has led to advances such as efficient combustion systems with reduced emissions of pollutants; new solar photoconversion processes; improved catalysts for the production of fuels and chemicals; and better separations and analytical methods for applications in energy processes, environmental remediation, and waste management. Research in geosciences results in advanced monitoring and measurement techniques for reservoir definition and an understanding of the fluid dynamics of complex fluids through porous and fractured subsurface rock. Research in the molecular and biochemical nature of photosynthesis aids the development of solar photo-energy conversion.
The BES program also plays a major role in enabling the nanoscale revolution. The importance of nanoscience to future energy technologies is clearly reflected by the fact that all of the elementary steps of energy conversion (e.g., charge transfer, molecular rearrangement, and chemical reactions) take place on the nanoscale. The development of new nanoscale materials, as well as the methods to characterize, manipulate, and assemble them, create an entirely new paradigm for developing new and revolutionary energy technologies.