Basic Energy Sciences (BES) supports a variety of research disciplines that seek to discover new materials and design new chemical processes. BES scientific research plays a role in virtually every aspect of energy resources, production, conversion, waste mitigation,transmission, storage, and efficiency. The President's Budget Request contains current funding levels for BES research and facilities, proposed future levels for consideration by Congressional appropriators, and descriptions of BES activities.
Additional information is provided below. The Summary Report describes how BES operates, the Core Research Activities (CRAs) describe each element of the BES portfolio in more detail, and the Research Summaries itemize the research projects within each CRA. Program managers—who are identified on the organization chart (51KB) and staff listings on this web site—are responsible for implementing the budget authorities.
Basic Energy Sciences Summary Report
This report describes how BES is organized and operates to accomplish our mission and presents selected accomplishments to illustrate some exciting new scientific advances that resulted from BES-supported research. Also included are references to supplementary resources that provide additional information about BES strategic planning, research, and user facilities.
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Basic Energy Sciences FY 2012 Research Summaries
This report provides a collection of research abstracts and highlights for more than 1,400 research projects funded by the Office of Basic Energy Sciences (BES) in Fiscal Year 2012 at some 180 institutions across the U.S. This volume is organized along the three BES Divisions: Materials Sciences and Engineering; Chemical Sciences, Geosciences, and Biosciences; and Scientific User Facilities.
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More Information: BES Core Research Activities
A primary reason that the BES organization was formed in June 1977 was to link federally-funded fundamental research to energy technologies. For BES research to be relevant to the DOE technology programs that fund R&D towards specific near-to-mid-term needs, it is very important to maintain strong, continual coordination activities between BES and other DOE program offices. The intrinsic dissimilarity of research objectives — that the expansive goals of basic research are to understand the fundamentals of phenomena in general, whereas the focused goals of applied research and development are to gain and apply knowledge to achieve specific requirements — represents the primary challenge of meaningfully integrating R&D within DOE.
To meet the challenge of supporting basic research programs that are also energy relevant, BES manages portfolio components that consist of distinct Core Research Activities (CRAs), which align with BES organizational (51KB) and budget structures. These CRAs are scientific disciplines that address the knowledge base for many different energy technologies.
All projects supported by BES must be of the highest scientific quality as judged by independent, rigorous, external peer review. For individual research projects supported by BES, energy relevance is satisfied if the research falls within the scope of a BES CRA.
The factors that determine the scope and energy relevance of BES CRAs include:
- new scientific opportunities as determined, in part, by new ideas submitted in proposals and recent scientific discoveries;
- results of external program reviews and international benchmarking activities of entire fields or sub-fields, such as those performed by the National Academy of Sciences;
- reports from federally chartered Advisory Committees (e.g., the Basic Energy Sciences Advisory Committee, BESAC);
- in-depth topical workshops, conferences, and contractor meetings of scientists, engineers, and technologists from universities, federal laboratories, and the private sector, sometimes with DOE sponsorship and participation;
- coordination and planning activities between DOE programs (e.g., the Energy Materials Coordination Committee, EMaCC), including informal day-to-day contacts among program managers;
- interagency coordinating activities;
- changing mission needs as described by OMB, OSTP, DOE, and SC mission statements and strategic plans; and
- Congressional input.
Planning and prioritization across the wide range of scientific disciplines within BES are ongoing activities that are more complex than those for a homogeneous program. The current portfolio of BES CRAs evolved over decades of such influences and will continue to change in response to future considerations. The resultant BES CRAs are designed in their entirety to support world-class basic research that (1) is at the forefront of science with the potential to make transformational discoveries, (2) is necessary for providing world-leading scientific user facilities, and (3) provides new knowledge for our Nation's energy security.
Each CRA contains research projects that support the above three objectives to varying degrees, depending on the scope and nature of the CRA. For example, an objective of the Catalysis Science CRA is to develop mechanistic understandings of the promotion of chemical reactions. As a result of this research, fundamental advances are being made in inorganic, organometallic, porous, and nanomaterial synthesis; surface and physical chemistry; organic chemistry; and chemical technology. Major discoveries in this CRA can be transformational, as recognized by the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 2005 that was shared by BES-supported researchers Richard R. Schrock and Robert H. Grubbs "for the development of the metathesis method in organic synthesis." Results from this CRA also provide new knowledge for our Nation's energy security by having relevance to numerous DOE technology efforts, such as reactions that model petroleum or coal processing, hydrogen production and storage, fuel cell conversion, automobile exhaust conversion, specialty chemical synthesis, polymer synthesis, nanomaterials synthesis, environmental remediation, and pollution prevention.
The BES CRAs are structured as scientific disciplines, rather than as technology areas, to facilitate the cross-cutting nature of basic research and to align BES programs with the Nation's best basic research performers, who are typically organized by scientific disciplines at universities and national laboratories. Further information about the BES CRA's can be found in the above CRA write-ups. Each write-up contains sections entitled Portfolio Description, Unique Aspects, Relationship to Others, Significant Accomplishments, Mission Relevance, and Scientific Challenges.