The Role of The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Posted on January 3rd, 2011 by

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is a National Laboratory managed by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy. Our aim is to provide scientific solutions to some of the world’s most urgent challenges, from finding new sources of clean energy and devising tools to offset climate change, to understanding and outwitting human diseases. Innovation and team science are hallmarks of Berkeley Lab. Technologies developed at Berkeley Lab have generated billions of dollars in revenues, and thousands of jobs. Savings as a result of Berkeley Lab developments in lighting and windows, and other energy-efficient technologies, have also been in the billions of dollars.

Our main areas of scientific research include:

  • renewable energy sources such as biofuels and artificial photosynthesis
  • energy efficiency at home, at work, and around the world
  • climate change research, environmental science, and the growing connections between them
  • the chemistry and physics of matter and force in the universe, from dark energy and the elusive neutrino to the hart of the atomic nucleus
  • computational science and advanced networking to enable discovery and remote collaborations
  • exploring new ways to produce ultrafast, ultrabright beams of light that can catch electrons in the act of reshaping the world around us
  • biological sciences for human health and energy research.

Some of the energy breakthroughs to emerge from Berkeley Lab include:

  • Cool roofs: Berkeley Lab leads the way in analyzing and implementing cool roofing materials, which reflect sunlight, lower surface temperature, and slash cooling costs. Think globally: If all the world’s roofs and pavement used cool materials, the reduction in carbon dioxide emissions would be equivalent to taking the world’s 600 million cars off the road for 18 years.
  • Fluorescent lights: Chances are you’re reading this using energy-efficient fluorescent lighting, and chances are those lights use electronic ballasts, which control the current flowing through the light. Berkeley Lab developed the ballast in the 1970s with the lighting industry. A 2001 study found that electronic ballasts sold through 2005 would provide $15 billion in energy savings.
  • Batteries: A new family of long-lasting rechargeable batteries was made possible when Lab scientists invented a novel class of solid polymer cathodes. Now, Lab scientists are developing long-life, safe batteries for plug-in hybrid vehicles.
  • Appliance standards: U.S. consumers save $7 billion each year thanks to Lab scientists who helped to develop the federal government’s energy efficiency standards for appliances. And those Energy Star labels you see on appliances? The Lab helped to implement those too.
  • Green buildings: The Lab wrote the book, or program rather, when it comes to wringing every penny out of a building’s energy use. Software developed at Berkeley Lab is used worldwide to audit a structure’s energy consumption. If you’ve set foot in the San Francisco Airport, Sears Tower, or the Nestle Headquarters in Switzerland, you’ve experienced energy savings thanks to Berkeley Lab.
  • Climate modeling: Climate simulations conducted at the Lab’s National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center helped to make global warming a dinner table conversation. Lab scientists are now developing a more powerful model that forecasts climate change’s impact on ecosystems and human health around the world. It will also predict how well carbon-cutting strategies curb global warming.
  • Energy efficiency in China: Since 1988, Lab scientists have worked to make the world’s second largest energy consumer after the U.S. as energy efficient as possible. Energy labels and appliance standards, developed with considerable support from Berkeley Lab, will reduce carbon emissions in China by about 9.1 billion tons between 2009 and 2030. The Lab has also helped improve energy efficiency in China’s residential and commercial buildings, and in industries such as cement manufacturing.

Written by Julie Chao, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

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