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WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senators Bill Frist (R-TN) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) today announced that the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users highway reauthorization bill includes $20 million to provide capital funding for a new Joint Institute for Advanced Materials, which will be located on the campus of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, and operated by UT and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

“Our roads, bridges, tunnels and rails carry citizens and cargo to all corners of Tennessee and the world,” said Frist. “And we must continue developing new transportation technologies that will effectively support the needs of our growing economy. I’m pleased that UT is committed to researching innovative ways of confronting future infrastructure challenges, and confident this funding will help keep UT-Knoxville at the forefront of transportation research.”

“As our country and economy continue to grow, so does our need to find ways to improve our infrastructure,” said Alexander. “This funding will help the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory continue to research more effective ways to improve our existing roads, highways, and railways. I am pleased to see this investment in Tennessee and our nation.”

The Joint Institute for Advanced Materials will be a center for multi-disciplinary materials research, drawing upon the unique resources of Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee in transportation, engineering, energy, high-performance computing, and the physical sciences. More than $60 million in transportation related research is conducted jointly between the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory each year, and funding for the new center will firmly establish Tennessee as a leader in this important research area.

The institute will integrate a broad range of transportation research capabilities, including sensor technologies, asphalt materials, carbon fiber research, fuel cells, nanotechnology, and other automotive research efforts.

Tennessee has committed to provide significant matching funds for the project in support of the unique collaborative relationship between UT-Knoxville and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The University of Tennessee is also committed to raise additional private funds to support the new center.

“Materials research is the key to the next wave of great discoveries, and this center will be at the forefront of this critical area,” said UT President John Petersen.

“We, as a nation, are on the brink of exciting discoveries in materials research. UT and Tennessee will be at the very heart of this effort. This is great news for our entire state, as this center will not only conduct cutting-edge research, it will help drive our state and national economies,” Petersen said.

“We are thankful to Sen. Frist for his leadership and vision in bringing this important center forward. His action will absolutely have a long and lasting impact on Tennessee’s position as a world science leader. We would also like to thank Sen. Alexander for his continued hard work in support of UT and the value the institution brings to the state and nation as a leader in innovation. Congressman Duncan also played a pivotal role in supporting this critical project,” he said.

“This new center will allow the University of Tennessee to take a lead role in the nation and world in materials research, which will have broad applicability in transportation issues ranging from safety to fuel cells and beyond,” UT Knoxville Chancellor Loren Crabtree said.

“As part of our management of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, this center will provide tremendous opportunity to scientists right here in Tennessee to impact the future. That’s a bold statement, but this center has that sort of potential,” Crabtree said.

“There are many research breakthroughs ahead in this area. Our university is poised to be on the cutting edge of that, which is an exciting prospect for all of Tennessee,” he said.

Contact: Nick Smith (202-224-3355)
Harvey Valentine (202-224-8816)