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U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Hears U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science Testimony

U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Hearing on Office of Science
Witnesses included:

Dr. J. Stephen Binkley, Acting Director and Principal Deputy Director; U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science 

Dr. Thomas Zacharia, Director; Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Dr. Edward Seidel, President; University of Wyoming

Manchin:  Basic Scientific Research Is Critical To Addressing America’s Most Pressing Challenges, Strengthening Competitive Advantages

Chairman Manchin questioned the witnesses about the greatest need and opportunity for the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Science and how the $16.9 billion authorized in the U.S. Competition and Innovation Act for the research and development at National Labs would be used.

“We’re looking at numerous areas where investments could be made and have the most impact in innovation and they would include areas like quantum information science and microelectronics and systems biology, essentially across the whole range of these, what we consider to be critical and emerging technologies.  These technologies will open the door to new businesses and there are significant research opportunities in these areas as well.  We also need to invest in the scientific infrastructure to support those activities,” Dr. Binkley noted.

Chairman Manchin also highlighted the importance of investing in the infrastructure needs of the DOE and its laboratories in addition to research and development.

In commenting on the relationship between the various science and research agencies across the Federal Government, Chairman Manchin also emphasized that “collaboration is as vital to scientific pursuits as it is to legislative ones.”

“We want to make sure that it’s not redundant.  We want to make sure that we’re not creating silos. We want to make sure that the money that the American people are investing, through our treasury, is going to get a return on that investment.  That means basically getting the maximum use of what we already have,” said Chairman Manchin, who noted that the witnesses helped to emphasize importance of interagency collaboration and coordination.


Laying the Foundation for a Sustainable Clean Energy Future

Following is an excerpt from Dr. Binkley’s testimony that speaks directly to the clean energy advances we’re making here at OceanBased Perpetual Energy:

“Clean, efficient, and affordable energy systems of the future, whether they tap sunlight, store electricity, or make fuel from splitting water or converting carbon dioxide, will not be realized by simple improvements in today’s technologies. Instead, these future energy systems will require new materials and chemical transformations that will enable exquisite control of physical and chemical processes and convert energy efficiently from one form to another.

“The ability to control physical and chemical processes may also be inspired by processes employed by nature, which allow plants to convert sunlight into energy and carbon dioxide into biomaterials and allow systems to “self-heal” and change functionality with conditions.  For example, recent advances in genome engineering are providing new possibilities to manipulate metabolic pathways within plants and microorganisms to increase carbon capture and convert it to an everbroader range of fuels, chemicals, and bioproducts.

“Achieving such atomic, molecular, and genomic level control of materials and processes for future energy systems requires understanding the underpinning principles that can only be revealed by basic science.

“Today, Office of Science-supported research is entering a new era in which materials will be precisely synthesized atom-by-atom to realize specific functionalities, and chemical processes will be designed with increasing efficiency and accuracy at the molecular scale.

“Likewise, through genome engineering techniques, modification of carbon capture pathways found in nature will be enhanced.  Powerful computational tools will allow us to predict the properties and dynamic behavior of materials, as well as chemical and biological processes, before they have been experimentally realized. And next-generation characterization tools will not only reveal the structure of the resulting materials and processes at the atomic level, they will allow us to observe how the atoms are incorporated into and contribute to the material’s function, and how that functionality evolves over time while in use.

“Office of Science user facilities play a critical role in the Nation’s energy research toolkit – providing resources for the entire research community, from academia to industry.  The capability to design and implement the complex structures, compositions, and chemical and biological processes that control energy conversion is now within reach.

“Collectively, these new tools and capabilities convey a significant strategic advantage for the Nation to advance scientific frontiers while laying the foundation for future innovations in clean energy systems, environmental justice, and economic prosperity.”


To watch a video of Senator Manchin’s opening remarks, please click here.

To watch a video of Senator Manchin’s questioning, please click here.