Research facility will lead to improved catalysts, more energy-efficient transportation

RICHLAND, WASHINGTON — A new facility where scientists will conduct research that leads to improved catalysts, and more efficient energy and transportation technologies, will be constructed on the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory campus in Richland starting later this year or early 2020.  

The energy sciences research building will be designed and constructed by a team comprised of Harvey Cleary Builders and Kirksey Architecture. The Houston-based partnership this week was awarded a $64.2 million contract to design and build the facility on the PNNL campus in Richland. Harvey Cleary Builders served as the general construction contractor for a $75 million biological and computational sciences facility, built on the PNNL campus in 2008-09. Harvey and Kirksey have previously collaborated on significant laboratory and R&D projects. 

Work in the energy sciences facility will focus on fundamental research in advanced chemistry, materials science and computing. Researchers will use their findings to develop more energy efficient chemical processes and new materials for use in energy and transportation technologies, among other innovations.  

The research facility, which will be named later, will be between 110,000 and 145,000 square feet. It will house labs and workstations for approximately 175 PNNL and visiting scientists, engineers and research support staff.  

According to the current timeline, the design phase will last through the summer, with groundbreaking occurring in late 2019 or early 2020. The building will be ready for occupancy in mid- or late 2021. The project is expected to tap local construction subcontractors and suppliers.

“The energy sciences facility will provide essential capabilities and a collaborative environment that leads to accelerated scientific discovery,” said PNNL Director Steven Ashby. “Breakthrough research conducted here may lead to reduced vehicle emissions, more efficient fertilizer production, and the ability to turn waste into fuels and products more efficiently and economically.”  

Ashby added the building will be designed to enhance regional research collaborations, including those with the University of Washington and Washington State University.

The energy sciences facility is part of an ongoing campus strategy to construct, acquire, modernize and sustain facilities and infrastructure to further enable core research and development capabilities at PNNL. 


Pacific Northwest National Laboratory draws on signature capabilities in chemistry, earth sciences, and data analytics to advance scientific discovery and create solutions to the nation's toughest challenges in energy resiliency and national security. Founded in 1965, PNNL is operated by Battelle for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science. DOE's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit PNNL's News Center, or contact: Greg Koller, 509-372-4864.