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Northwest lab makes list for stimulus funds

RICHLAND – Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in southeast Washington expects to receive $124 million in federal stimulus money.

Much of the money will be used to buy scientific equipment for complex research projects.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced plans Monday to distribute $1.2 billion to science projects, including $830 million for projects at national laboratories.

“Leadership in science remains vital to America’s economic prosperity, energy security and global security,” Chu said during a visit to Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York.

PNNL plans to spend $60 million to buy new high-end scientific equipment for its Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory. The facility allows scientists from all 50 states and 30 countries to use its equipment and resources to work on complex environmental and other scientific challenges.

The money will be used to buy equipment such as nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometers, mass spectrometers and high-power microscopes. The equipment was planned to be purchased through 2013, but now can be bought sooner.

Some construction also will be necessary to prepare for the new equipment.

Another $60 million will be spent at the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Climate Research Facility to improve observation capabilities to better understand the role that aerosols, which can include smoke, dust and pollution, have in affecting regional climate and atmospheric circulation.

Some of the equipment will be mobile and other equipment will be installed in remote locations in Oklahoma, Alaska and the tropical Pacific Ocean.

The remaining $4 million will be spent to make some buildings more energy efficient.

The lab also is submitting proposals for stimulus money to other Energy Department program offices and other federal agencies that have research done at PNNL.

The money allocated to PNNL and eight other national labs “should help aggressively move forward projects that will be critical to the country’s energy security and global competitiveness,” PNNL Director Mike Kluse said in a message to employees.

PNNL’s research areas include science and environment, energy, defense and national security. Nearly 60 percent of the laboratory’s research is conducted for the Energy Department, with about 25 percent for the departments of Homeland Security and Defense.

The laboratory employs 4,000 people in the Tri-Cities area and has 325 open positions.

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