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Today, President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) into law. This is a landmark spending and tax reform package that includes the most extensive measures ever taken by the United States to mitigate climate change. The legislation also strengthens science facility projects at the Department of Energy’s national laboratories.
Faced with unified Republican opposition, over the past year Democrats have used the congressional budget adjustment process to secure the necessary unanimous support within their ranks in the Senate. Negotiated the bill’s content. The IRA cleared the most significant hurdle in a 51-50 vote in the Senate on Aug. 7. The House returned from a temporary break to approve the bill on Friday.
The climate-related provisions of the law will cost about $370 billion over several years and include tax incentives and subsidies, mainly aimed at decarbonizing the economy and making it more resilient to environmental hazards. includes measures. Of that funding, billions have been allocated for scientific research and technology development, including his temporary $2 billion increase to projects at DOE laboratories not directly related to climate change. included.
Remnants of Build Back Better
IRA funding for DOE lab projects is well below the nearly $23 billion proposed last year by the House Science Committee to address infrastructure needs across science institutions as part of the broader Build Back Better Act. increase. Funding for science infrastructure was all but withdrawn when House Democrats cut the bill to secure more support for it. However, some funding for the DOE Lab was later restored by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, chaired by Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV).
Manchin soon withdrew his support for the Build Back Better Act, halting its progress. Since then, he has been a key gatekeeper in any effort to pass revisions. The IRA has focused on climate and energy, health care, and tax reform, at Manchin’s insistence, but some of his earlier DOE lab funding is still included in the final version. there is
All research funding under the new law will be applied immediately and will continue to be available through fiscal year 2027. Listed below is a breakdown of funding received by individual DOE program offices. Departments have discretion over which projects they spend their money on.
High Energy Physics ($304 million). The Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility and Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (LBNF/DUNE) project is a likely candidate to receive a portion of the funding as it has experienced cost increases of over $1 billion over the last few years. DOE has extended the project schedule to accommodate this increase. Once expected to begin scientific operations in 2026, the facility is now expected to be ready in the early 2030s. As a result, not only will research opportunities be delayed, but the project will be significantly delayed from Japan’s planned Hyper-Kamiokande experiment in the race to be the first to achieve certain key neutrino measurements. Chris Mossey, his LBNF/DUNE project director in the United States, said last year that it would be technically feasible to complete construction a few years earlier if more funding was available.
Other potentially funded high-energy physics projects include US contributions to the future brightness enhancement of CERN’s Large Hadron Collider. At this time, DOE is under-allocated for this year’s projects and is looking to catch up. Additionally, the Cosmic Microwave Background Stage 4 project currently only has token support for early planning work.
Nuclear Physics ($217 million). After the planned 2025 closure of the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), Brookhaven National Laboratory will accelerate construction of its flagship Nuclear Physics Program, the Electron Ion Collider (EIC). It’s a schedule. The project needs additional funding much sooner to prepare for construction and avoid layoffs of his RHIC staff members who have the expertise needed for the new collider. Separately from the EIC, the Nuclear Physics Program is considering a tonne-scale neutrinoless double beta decay experiment, but has not yet provided significant funding.
Fundamental Energy Science ($295 million). DOE’s Basic Energy Science Program manages a large portfolio of construction projects at user facilities. One candidate for grant funding is his second target station project at the Spallation Neutron Source at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Expected to cost about $2 billion, the station will help alleviate a chronic lack of capacity for neutron scattering research in the United States, but it is still on the backburner. Other projects that could be accelerated include subsequent upgrades to SLAC’s nearly completed Linac Coherent Light Source-II facility and construction of a beamline at the National Synchrotron Light Source II facility in Brookhaven.
Fusion Energy Science ($280 million). The US contribution to the international ITER facility under construction in France is a major project supported by DOE’s Fusion Energy Science Program. Last year, Kathy McCarthy, head of her office for ITER’s US project, testified before Congress that the US was short of her $97 million commitment to the project. Her CHIPS and Science Act, signed on August 9, also recommends that Congress significantly increase annual U.S. contributions going forward. Separately from ITER, the fusion program plans to upgrade SLAC’s Matter in Extreme Conditions end station to increase the US’ capacity for high-intensity laser research. However, funding for that project has been restrained as the DOE considers its scope.
Advanced Scientific Computing ($164 million). DOE has completed the installation of exascale computers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory, but what follow-on projects can receive IRA funding within the Advanced Scientific Computing Research Program? is not clear. However, the program plans to build facilities to help process the increasingly large amounts of data that DOE science facilities generate. The CHIPS and Science Act also directs the DOE to expand the program’s work on quantum network infrastructure, recommending an annual budget of $100 million.
Isotope Program ($158 million). Oakridge plans to build a Stable Isotope Production and Research Center and a Radioisotope Processing Facility to expand domestic production of critical isotopes. Work on the former facility has not yet fully commenced, while the latter remains in the early stages of design. Concerns over the isotope supply chain have recently become more urgent because of the war in Ukraine and Russia’s role as a major supplier of both isotopes and uranium used to fuel isotope-manufacturing reactors. It is
Lab infrastructure ($583 million). The IRA includes $133 million in laboratory general infrastructure projects overseen by the DOE Office of Science. It will also provide $450 million for infrastructure and general plant projects, split evenly among DOE’s Offices of Nuclear Energy, Fossil Energy and Carbon Management, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
Other science and technology initiatives
Apart from supporting scientific research, the IRA’s vast decarbonization agenda includes provisions aimed at facilitating the deployment and commercialization of new technologies. In particular, it will double the capacity of DOE’s Loan Program Office. This is done primarily by allowing the office to guarantee up to $250 billion in financing for energy infrastructure projects through a temporary program. The law also allocates more than $5.8 billion to DOE’s new Office of Clean Energy Demonstration program to support greenhouse gas emission reduction projects at industrial facilities.
In addition, the IRA intends to expedite the deployment of new generation reactors by allocating $700 million to expedite the availability of the high-analytical low-enriched uranium (HALEU) fuel used by many of these reactors. I am aiming. HALEU is uranium enriched, with 5% to 20% of its weight comprised of the highly fissionable uranium-235 isotope. Russia is now the world’s leading supplier of HALEU to her, and even before Ukraine’s invasion, Congress was keen to develop domestic sources.
Within the Department of Transportation, the IRA has allocated $245 million to projects related to sustainable aviation fuel production and $47 million to projects related to low-emission aviation technology.
Among other funding to NOAA, the IRA provides $490 million for climate and weather research and forecasting activities. The law also includes his $23.5 million to the U.S. Geological Survey’s 3D elevation program. This program provides high-resolution terrain data for a variety of applications, including climate resilience, disaster response, and clean energy deployment.