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New facilities enable biology, computing advancements

October 09, 2009 Share This!

Solutions impact bioenergy, emissions capture

  • The Biological Sciences Facility and the Computational Sciences Facility — together valued at about $75 million — will partially replace laboratory and office space Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has been using on the south end of the nearby Hanford Site.

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RICHLAND, Wash. – The Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory today celebrated the opening of new facilities that will enable discoveries in biological, computational and subsurface science and developments in bioenergy, carbon sequestration and homeland security.

The $75 million facilities represent the first new buildings on PNNL's campus since 1995. The buildings will primarily support research in biological systems science and data-intensive computing for DOE, the Department of Homeland Security, the National Institutes of Health and other organizations.

"These buildings represent the future of the Laboratory - providing us advanced equipment and tools needed to have an even greater impact," said PNNL Director Mike Kluse. "We have some great scientists, and these facilities will provide them the equipment and tools they need to advance science and deliver science-based solutions."

More than 300 PNNL staff will work in these buildings -- called the Biological Sciences Facility (BSF) and the Computational Sciences Facility (CSF).

"This is an important step in the modernization of the Laboratory and will move scientists out of Cold War-era facilities to buildings that will enable a new generation of discovery and advancement," said Mike Weis, manager of the Pacific Northwest Site Office. PNNL needed to vacate laboratory and office space it was using on the south end of the nearby Hanford Site by 2011 as part of DOE's environmental cleanup efforts there.

In the BSF, scientists will focus on gaining a fundamental understanding of biological systems that are needed to more effectively use microorganisms for renewable bioenergy and carbon sequestration; prevent contaminants from moving through groundwater; and improve our systems-level understanding of how low-dose radiation and other factors affect human health. BSF will house state-of-the-art analytical equipment and powerful computing capabilities that enable scientists to combine experimental and computational approaches. For example, scientists are studying communities of microbes in hopes of predicting their behavior and then manipulating them to produce a valuable product or process such as renewable bioenergy.

In the CSF, scientists will develop solutions for the growing challenge of data overload -common to the scientific and national security communities. For example, a single scientific experiment can produce a terabyte of data - too much for a person to interpret. Intelligence analysts face similar challenges collecting and processing real-time data streams - from video to audio to text -they must analyze to better predict and detect threats. PNNL researchers are leaders in the development of data-intensive computing solutions - a way to capture, manage, analyze and help users understand massive amounts of data using innovative computing hardware and software technologies. CSF includes 10,000 square feet of raised floor space to accommodate data-intensive and high-performance computing hardware and data storage solutions.

CSF is home to the Center for Adaptive Supercomputing Software, which provides solutions for improving the execution speed of irregular, data-intensive applications like power grid analysis and bioinformatics. PNNL researchers who support the National Visualization and Analytics Center will also work in CSF. NVAC is a Department of Homeland Security program operated by PNNL that is helping local and state emergency responders and government analysts understand and address terrorist threats.

The Cowperwood Company, a real estate development company headquartered in New York City, privately financed the buildings and will lease them to Battelle, which operates PNNL for DOE.

CTL Capital, an investment banking firm based in New York City, structured the financing for these facilities. And the Seattle office of KMD Architects, based in San Francisco, designed the buildings. D.E. Harvey Builders, based in Houston, served as the general contractor and led construction. Ground was broken in June 2008.

Another new facility - the Physical Sciences Facility (PSF) - is being built to replace capabilities that currently reside in buildings set for demolition on the Hanford Site. Construction began on PSF in 2007 and will be complete in 2010. The PSF comprises three main buildings - Radiation Detection, Materials Science & Technology, and Ultra-Trace - as well as a high bay for research, a laboratory located 40 feet below the surface, and a radiation portal monitoring test track. These facilities will house about 450 staff who support national security and energy research missions. DOE's Office of Science, the National Nuclear Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security are funding the 200,000-square-foot, $224 million facility


About Cowperwood

Cowperwood headquartered in New York City, designs, builds and leases office and associated laboratory and classified space to the private sector and federal government. They currently own and manage more than two million square feet of general office and associated space for the General Services Administration, and private sector research and engineering companies performing federal contracts.

About KMD Architects

Founded in 1963 as Kaplan McLaughlin Diaz, KMD Architects has eight offices and 190 employees. The firm opened its Seattle office in 1992 after KMD was retained to design the expansion of Harborview Medical Center.

About D.E. Harvey Builders

D.E. Harvey Builders is a full-service general contractor with offices in Houston, Austin and Washington, D.C. They provide general contracting, pre-construction, design-build and construction management services.

Tags: Energy, Environment, Fundamental Science, National Security, Operations, Subsurface Science, Biology, Radiation Detection, Facilities

Interdisciplinary teams at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory address many of America's most pressing issues in energy, the environment and national security through advances in basic and applied science. Founded in 1965, PNNL employs 4,300 staff and has an annual budget of about $950 million. It is managed by Battelle for the U.S. Department of Energy. For more information, visit the PNNL News Center, or follow PNNL on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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