New energy research lab coming to PNNL

Battelle / PNNLBy Frances White, originally published by PNNL

Construction on a new energy research facility at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratorycampus will start this April.

The project, valued at approximately $10 million, will build a facility that will house a broad variety of energy research and PNNL’s campus sustainability program. Research conducted there will address national challenges in the power grid’s reliability and resiliency, the integration of renewable energy onto the power grid, reducing energy use in buildings and much more.

“This new facility is a sign of DOE’s and PNNL’s continued dedication to ensuring the nation has reliable access to clean, efficient energy,” said PNNL Director Mike Kluse. “This large, advanced research space will enable PNNL’s innovative scientists and engineers to deliver impactful science and technology to the nation.”

DOE is funding the project. DGR*Grant Construction of Richland was awarded a contract earlier this month to design and build the facility. The DGR*Grant-led team includes Meier Architecture Engineering of Kennewick, Wash. Construction will begin in April and is expected to finish in late spring 2015.

To speed up construction, DGR*Grant’s contract allows the facility to be completed in phases. Current plans call for a 22,000-square-foot building with a mix of laboratory, computational, control room and office space. At least 45 staff members are expected to work in the facility. It will be located on the north end of PNNL’s Richland campus, near the corner of Stevens Drive and Horn Rapids Road.

Research at the facility is expected to benefit many DOE programs and to integrate PNNL’s capabilities in computer science, mathematics and systems engineering. Beyond research involving the power grid and buildings energy efficiency, the facility will also be home to the development of mathematical explanations for how the many diverse components of complex systems collectively operate.

PNNL’s Building Operations Control Center will also relocate to the new facility. PNNL uses the center to monitor energy use and the system performance of PNNL buildings. The center is an ongoing partnership between PNNL research and facilities staff and uses building energy efficiency software and approaches developed at PNNL. The new facility allows greater collaboration between research and operations staff and enhances PNNL’s use of its own facilities.