Colorado: EERE Opens State-of-the-Art Energy Systems Integration Facility

Project Overview
Positive Impact: NREL’s ESIF Visualization Room can provide scientists and researchers a molecular view of cellulose microfibrils, which may offer answers to unlock the cellulose that is crucial to the economics of the biofuels industry.
Location: Golden, CO
EERE Investment: Congress provided $135 million to construct and equip the user facility where the Visualization room and the Collaboration room are each located. The President’s fiscal year 2014 budget request includes an additional $20 million for facility operations

On September 11, 2013, Energy Secretary Moniz dedicated the Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) clean energy research center at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado. "The Energy Department has been at the forefront of large-scale computation and modeling, and new NREL supercomputing capabilities will support the groundbreaking science and innovation we need to address the effects of global climate change and pave the way to a cleaner, more sustainable energy future," Moniz stated. Following the dedication, Moniz expressed his commitment to improving communication with the public on the importance of research efforts that take place at DOE and national laboratories. The Secretary also mentioned the need to push for alternative fuels, particularly biofuels, and the importance of decreasing production costs to help cellulosic ethanol make its way into the market. Utilizing the new facility, scientists can further develop biofuels research to drive those technologies closer to commercialization.

Inside the ESIF building, a visualization room provides a large-scale, high-resolution display wall, which is ideally suited for the exploration and presentation of high-resolution data that can be used to convey information and illustrate research findings. This room can also be used to display data that the Biomass Surface Characterization Laboratory is producing. The technology provides the visual real estate and direct high-speed connection to the ESIF High-Performance Computing system to present and analyze the data from ensembles of biomass pretreatment simulations—providing a place for scientists to better understand the data and trends that multiple simulations might reveal.

NREL's Collaboration Room, also located within ESIF, provides the ability to physically interact with and explore three-dimensional (3-D) data inside an immersive environment. For example, this technology can assist in the creation of computational biomass models though the exploration and manipulation of 3-D electron tomography data sets. The space also provides the ideal environment to analyze the complex 3-D structures resulting from molecular dynamics simulations. 

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