Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Congressman Chuck Fleischmann, and lab officials broke ground Tuesday morning on a multipurpose research facility that will provide laboratory space for expanding scientific activities at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
The new Translational Research Capability, or TRC, will be built for world-leading research in computing and materials science, and it will serve to advance the science and engineering of quantum information, a press release said.
“Through today’s groundbreaking, we’re writing a new chapter in research at the Translational Research Capability Facility,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry said in the press release. “This building will be the home for advances in quantum information science, battery and energy storage, materials science, and many more. It will also be a place for our scientists, researchers, engineers, and innovators to take on big challenges and deliver transformative solutions.”
The three-story building will be about 100,000 square feet, and it has an estimated total project cost of $95 million. It will be located in the central ORNL campus. It will accommodate sensitive equipment, multipurpose labs, heavy equipment, and inert environment labs, the press release said. About 75 percent of the facility will contain large, modularly planned and open laboratory areas with the rest as office and support spaces, the release said.
“This research and development space will advance and support the multidisciplinary mission needs of the nation’s advanced computing, materials research, fusion science, and physics programs,” ORNL Director Thomas Zacharia said. “The new building represents a renaissance in the way we carry out research allowing more flexible alignment of our research activities to the needs of frontier research.”
Oak Ridge Today first reported on the proposed new building in January, after a request for information was issued.
It’s the first time a building of this size has been added at ORNL since the Chemical and Materials Science building (Building 4100) was completed in 2011. It will be similar in size and appearance and close to the Chemical and Materials Sciences Building, ORNL said.
“We’re so excited that DOE is supporting such a project,” ORNL senior scientist Athena Sefat said in an interview with reporters on Tuesday.
The new building will be located in the central part of the main ORNL campus between buildings 3500 and 3525. Some building demolition work was involved in preparing the site.
ORNL said the flexible space will support the lab’s growing fundamental materials research. That includes quantum information science and computing systems.
“The modern facility will provide atomic fabrication and materials characterization capabilities to accelerate the development of novel quantum computing devices,” the press release said. “Researchers will also use the facility to pursue advances in quantum modeling and simulation, leveraging a co-design approach to develop algorithms along with prototype quantum systems.”
The new laboratories will provide noise isolation, electromagnetic shielding, and low vibration environments required for multidisciplinary research in quantum information science as well as materials development and performance testing for fusion energy applications, the press release said. The co-location of the flexible, modular spaces will enhance collaboration among projects.
The facility’s design and location will also conform to sustainable building practices, with an eye toward encouraging collaboration among researchers, the press release said. The TRC will be on a “brownfield” tract that was formerly occupied by one of the laboratory’s earliest, Manhattan Project-era structures.
ORNL began a modernization campaign shortly after UT-Battelle arrived in 2000 to manage the national laboratory.
“The new construction has enabled the laboratory to meet growing space and infrastructure requirements for rapidly advancing fields such as scientific computing while vacating legacy spaces with inherent high operating costs, inflexible infrastructure, and legacy waste issues,” the press release said.
The construction of the new building is supported by the Science Laboratory Infrastructure program of the DOE Office of Science.
The lab has previously said that the design/build contract for the Translational Research Capability building will be awarded in early 2020 and construction will be complete by 2024.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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