The grants were announced today at Argonne by Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin and U.S. Representative Bill Foster, a former Fermilab physicist. The department provided $1.6 billion in funding to national labs under the Cut Inflation Act, which had a strong focus on climate change.
Granholm marveled at Argonne’s new supercomputer, Aurora, which is expected to be the first computer in the United States capable of performing 1 quintillion calculations per second. Argonne’s supercomputers are typically used to model science’s greatest phenomenon, such as weather, climate change, and disease.
She also noted that Argonne’s advanced photon source, essentially a Wrigley Field-sized X-ray microscope, was used to develop the COVID-19 treatment Paxlovid.
“Commitment to science takes decades,” Granholm said of the new federal funding. “Twenty years ago, the United States invested five times more in R&D than China. Now we are barely ahead. This is why investment is important. America is determined to stop losing ground and win the race for the global economy of the future.
Funding for projects at Fermi, which is home to around 1,900 scientists and other staff, comes as part of a major expansion.
“Over the next five years, Fermilab plans to invest more than $500 million in the construction of new buildings and infrastructure on site, creating many jobs,” lab director Lia Merminga said in a statement. . “With the ERI funding, we now have confidence that we can continue with our projects on schedule.”
Granholm said there will be additional funding for National Laboratories from the Chips & Science Act, which includes $53 billion for semiconductor research, manufacturing and other programs, as well as other research.