User Facilities

Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL)

Richland, Washington
Start of Operations
Number of Users
644 (FY 2016)

EMSL leads molecular-level discoveries for BER and DOE that translate to predictive understanding and accelerated solutions for national energy and environmental challenges.


The Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL), at Pacific Northwest National LaboratoryExternal link, began operations in 1997, and currently provides the scientific user community with a broad range of premier instruments for molecular to mesoscale research, as well as production high performance computing (HPC) and optimized computational codes for molecular to continuum-scale modeling and simulation. With more than 50 premier instruments, individual non-proprietary and proprietary users and user teams from academia, national laboratories, other federal agencies, and industry can use multiple capabilities and iterate between experiment and simulation to obtain a mechanistic understanding of physical, chemical and biological processes and interactions that underpin larger-scale biological, environmental, climate, and energy challenges. To maintain capabilities at state-of-the-art, EMSL not only obtains new capabilities, but some EMSL scientists design and build new instruments and enhance existing instruments. EMSL scientists also create, make use of, and enhance open-source computational codes to meet the evolving research needs of the scientific community.

Some major capabilities include: advanced imaging from the atomic-level to dynamic process imaging; production computing tailored for atmospheric chemistry, molecular dynamics, ab initio, and reactive transport modeling; mass spectrometry for proteomics, metabolomics and particle characterization; nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometry of macromolecules to metal centers of catalysts/materials; spectroscopy and imaging of radioactively contaminated samples and materials; and subsurface flow and transport capabilities to measure, model, and predict the movement and fate of natural and anthropogenic materials in soils and sediments.

EMSL provides users a problem-solving environment within which research teams or individual investigators can use multiple types of premier capabilities to understand fundamental mechanisms and kinetics that can then be parameterized for use in simulations and models of larger-scale environmental and energy processes.


EMSL’s scientific directions are driven by BER’s strategic directions to: 1) obtain a systems-level understanding of how genomic information is translated into functional capabilities of living systems to enable prediction or redesign of metabolic processes for sustainable bioenergy and environmental purposes, and 2) to understand fundamental molecular-scale properties of natural and anthropogenic inputs to improve predictions of key environmental and atmospheric processes. These scientific directions are organized under EMSL’s four science themes: Atmospheric Aerosol Systems (AAS), Biological Dynamics and Design (BDD), Energy Materials and Processes (EMP), and Terrestrial and Subsurface Ecosystems (TSE). The EMSL science themes build on EMSL’s scientific expertise and guide planning for future capabilities. Each science theme has a specific leadership area of focus and is led by an EMSL scientist.

Last modified: 6/19/2017 4:31:41 PM