U.S. Department of Energy awards contract for management and operation of Ames Laboratory to Iowa State University

New contract builds upon almost 60 years of successful ISU management

AMES, IA -- The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded a five-year, approximately $30 million per year contract to manage and operate its Ames Laboratory to Iowa State University. The new contract takes effect Jan.1, 2007.

The awarding of the contract to Iowa State continues a long-standing relationship between the university and the federal government that was formally established in 1947 with the Ames Laboratory's founding on the ISU campus following work performed for the historic Manhattan Project. Iowa State has been the sole manager and operator of Ames Lab's contract for the DOE since the Lab's inception.

"We're very pleased that the Department of Energy has decided to continue its relationship with Iowa State," said ISU President Gregory Geoffroy. "We have shown over a period of six decades our ability to manage and operate this important federal research facility, and it has been a valuable part of the education and research programs at Iowa State."

The Ames Laboratory is a DOE Office of Science laboratory that seeks solutions to energy-related problems through the exploration of chemical, engineering, materials, mathematical and physical sciences. Established in the 1940s with the successful development of the most efficient process to produce high-purity uranium metal for atomic energy, the Lab now pursues a broad range of scientific priorities. Some examples of research accomplishments include:

  • Lead-free solder that is stronger, easier to use, stands up better in high-heat conditions and is environmentally safe. Over 50 licensing agreements worldwide have been signed on lead-free solder. The inventor, Iver Anderson, was named 2006 Iowa Inventor of the Year by the Iowa Intellectual Property Law Association.
  • Material for magnetic refrigeration that improves refrigerator efficiency by an estimated 25-40 percent in large-scale refrigeration units and air conditioners.
  • Capillary electrophoresis unit that can analyze multiple chemical samples simultaneously, which has applications in the pharmaceutical, genetics, medical and forensics fields.
  • Photonic band-gap crystals that led to the development of the rapidly expanding field of photonic crystals, which are expected to have revolutionary applications in optical communications.

In 2006, Ames Laboratory won its 16th R&D 100 Award. Given annually by R&D Magazine and referred to by the Chicago Tribune as the "Oscars of Invention," these awards recognize the top 100 most innovative ideas of the year.

The Ames Laboratory also operates the Materials Preparation Center, which provides high-quality materials and unique characterization services to scientists at university, industry and government facilities throughout the world.

"Ames Laboratory's international reputation as a materials research laboratory adds significant value to Iowa State's overall research mission," said John Brighton, vice president for research and economic development at ISU. Many of Ames Laboratory's scientists also serve as faculty at Iowa State. "Ames Lab's scientists bring expertise to Iowa State that it wouldn't otherwise have," Brighton added.

Ames Laboratory's 2006 budget is approximately $33 million. The Laboratory has an annual payroll of approximately $16 million and a workforce of more than 440 full- and part-time employees. More than 250 of these employees are scientists and engineers. Approximately 20 percent of the Laboratory's workforce is ISU students. In addition, the Laboratory has relationships with more than 270 non-paid associates in departments throughout Iowa State.

The new contract will run from Jan. 1, 2007, to Dec. 31, 2011.

Ames Laboratory is operated for the Department of Energy by Iowa State University. The Lab conducts research into various areas of national concern, including energy resources, high-speed computer design, environmental cleanup and restoration, and the synthesis and study of new materials.