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The NERSC Allocation Request Form (ERCAP)

Requests to use NERSC resources are submitted annually via a web form known as the ERCAP (Energy Research Computing Allocations Process) Request Form. ERCAP is accessed through the NERSC Help Desk system and is available year-round. 

If you are new to NERSC and want to apply for an allocation as a new Principal Investigator please read Applying for your First NERSC Allocation.

In general existing projects should be renewed for the next allocation year - you should not start a new request if you have an existing repository.  Renewing carries forward many of the responses to the request questions except for any new or revised questions.

Preparing an ERCAP Request

The procedures for starting an ERCAP request for a new project, renewing a current project and editing an in-progress request that you previously saved are all very similar:

      1. Point your browser to, and login using your NIM credentials. Go to "ERCAP Requests" in the navigator bar on the left (if you don't see the navigator, you may need to toggle it with the right-pointing arrow button at the bottom left of the screen):

        ERCAP Requests Homepage

      2. You will be presented with buttons to request a "New" project or request a "Renewal" for an existing project. If you are renewing a current project, select the "Request a Project Renewal" button - this will pre-fill some of the form questions based on your existing project. 

        If you are returning to continue work on a draft request you started earlier, you should see your request under the "Draft Requests" section. Choose the request to continue editing by clicking its number link.

        For a completely new project, select the "Request a New Project" button. If you want to start computing before the end of this year, select the button with this year's number on it. If you don't need to start computing before next year, which typically starts early in January, select the button with next year's number on it. (see ERCAP Application Deadlines for dates)

      3. If you are creating a renewal request, once you are in the ERCAP form, you will see a box with the label "ERCAP Number of Request to Renew". You can search through your requests from the previous two years by clicking on the magnifying glass symbol. A pop-up window will show a list of your previous requests that are available to be renewed. Click on the ERCAP number link to select the request.ERCAP Renewal select list


    1. At any point in the form you can save your draft, and either continue editing immediately or return to work on it later.
    2. Finally, when your request is ready to submit, click on the "Submit for Review" button.


ERCAP Request Questions:

Principal Investigators, PI Proxies and Senior Investigators

The Principal Investigator, commonly referred to as the PI, is responsible for the project and for managing any resources awarded to the project. The PI is usually one of the PIs on a grant listed on the DOE Funding tab.

If your project has multiple PIs, please pick one to be the NERSC PI. Other PIs can be listed as Senior Investigators and/or PI Proxies. Senior Investigators are the key contributors in your project. If you need to change the PI for the project contact the Account Support Group at

A Principal Investigator can designate one or more "PI Proxies" as Authorized Preparers who help to to fill out the request form and to manage the project's users.  You can add a PI Proxy to your project by selecting from the Other Authorized Preparers list. This list contains the NERSC users from your organization. If you want to select a user from another organization, click on the "Add External PI Proxy" button. (NOTE: This button is not displayed until after you have clicked on the Save ERCAP Request button the first time.)

Project Title, URL, Image, and Name

Please choose a project title that succinctly describes your project, suitable for display in award lists and in NERSC's Annual Report. The NERSC Project Title is not required to match the title of any existing DOE grant or project.  The Title is limited to 256 characters; shorter titles are preferable (100 or fewer characters). In summary, the title should be short and descriptive.

All projects should provide a project URL; these are useful in obtaining additional information about a project (e.g. when responding to queries for information).

Also choose a short project name (10 characters maximum) that uniquely identifies your project. Examples of such project names are "MPICH" (for the project that supports MPICH software development) and "STAR" (for the project that analyzes data from the STAR experiment). If you wish, you may use a repository name as your project name.

Project Class

Choose one of:

  • DOE Mission Science: for production-ready projects that receive direct grant support from one of the six DOE Offices of Science or whose research reflects the mission of the Office of Science. See Eligibility and DOE Mission.
  • Education: only if the project is for classroom teaching (and not research).
  • Exploratory: for PIs who wish to investigate using NERSC resources for new projects, or who wish to port or develop new codes. The maximum Exploratory awards are 100,000 Cray XC40 equivalent hours and 1 TB of archival storage space in HPSS.

Sponsoring Site

The sponsoring site is usually the host institution of the requesting PI.  If your site is not listed or you wish to make the Sponsoring Site an organization other than the PI's, send an email to NERSC Account Support,, provide the name of the organization or if it is a new organization, provide the following information: 

      1. The Organization name.
      2. An appropriate Organization Type (choose one of: DOE Lab, Industry, Non-Profit, Other Gov Lab, Private Lab, University).
      3. One or two lines for the organization's mailing address.
      4. The City.
      5. For the US, the US State.
      6. The Postal or ZIP Code
      7. For non US organizations, enter the Province.
      8. The Country.
      9. The organization's website address in the form (do not prepend http://).

Science Category

Select the Science Category that best categorizes your project. Please do not select Other (this is just a place holder).

The science categories for AY 2019 are a revised version of the tiered list and it now looks like this:

Biosciences : Bioenergy
Biosciences : Genomics
Biosciences : Molecular Science
Chemistry  : Biochemistry
Chemistry  : Catalysis
Chemistry  : Chemical Physics
Chemistry  : Photosynthetic Systems
Chemistry  : Physical Chemistry
Computer Science 
Computer Science : Data and I/O 
Computer Science : Hardware and Architecture 
Computer Science : Optimization and Tuning 
Computer Science : Quantum and Neuromorphic
Computer Science : Systems Software and Programming Environ
Computer Science : Visualization
Energy : Combustion
Energy : Fossil Fuels
Energy : Fusion
Energy : Nuclear Energy
Energy : Renewable
Environmental Science - Earth and Environmental Systems
Environmental Science : Atmosphere
Environmental Science : Coupled Systems
Environmental Science : Ocean - Cryosphere
Environmental Science : Terrestial
Geoscience : Geochemistry
Geoscience : Geophysics
Materials Science
Materials Science : Biomolecular
Materials Science : Chemistry
Materials Science : Condensed Matter
Materials Science : Energy Storage
Materials Science : Nanomaterials
Materials Science : Soft Matter
Math - Applied Mathematics
Math : Algorithms and Libraries
Math : Data Analytics and Machine Learning
Math : Numerical Optimization
Math : Uncertainty Quantification and Statistics
Physics : Accelerator Science
Physics : Astrophysics
Physics : Condensed Matter
Physics : Cosmology
Physics : High Energy Physics (Experimental)
Physics : High Energy Physics (Theory)
Physics : Nuclear Physics (Experimental)
Physics : Nuclear Physics (Theory)
Scientific User Facilities
Social Sciences

Chose the Science Category that most closely fits your research area.

DOE Office and Program

If you are funded by the DOE Office of Science select the Office and Program that fund your project.

If you are not funded by the DOE Office of Science, see Eligibility

DOE Funding

Is this project funded by the DOE Office of Science?

Select either "Yes" or "No."

If you chose "Yes"

      1. Answer the question: Who is your DOE Program Manager? This is the DOE person or people who administer your DOE Office of Science grant. They are not Lab LDRD managers.
      2. List all relevant DOE Office of Science (DOE SC) grant numbers that apply to this project.
      3. If NERSC resources are being used to support research funded by another agency (not DOE SC), list the funding agencies and grant numbers.

If you chose "No"

      1. List all relevant grants that are supporting your project. Include both the grant number and the name of the funding agency in the appropriate box:
        • DOE, other than Office of Science: grants supported by areas of DOE outside the Office of Science (e.g. Office of Nuclear Energy, Science, and Technology; Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy). Lab LDRD support can be listed here as well.
        • Work for others at DOE laboratory: the PI is located at a DOE laboratory but receives funding from outside of DOE SC.
        • Other funding agencies: e.g. NASA, NSF, NOAA
        • Other Funding: e.g. University department
      2. Describe your project's relevance to the mission of the DOE Office you selected in question 9. See Eligibility and DOE Mission.  PLEASE NOTE: The purpose of this section is NOT to state how important your project is; that happens in the Project Description Tab.  The purpose of this section is to state how the goals of your project overlap with or align with the mission of DOE Office of Science.  Your startup request will be evaluated partly on the basis of alignment with a DOE office mission.  Find one of the mission statements and give just two or three sentences stating how and why your work is related to it.

Legal Controls Questions

Does this project intend to make use of any information (software or data) subject to the following legal controls on use?

  • Classified or controlled military or defense information
  • Export controlled or ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) information
  • Personally identifiable information
  • Protected health information
  • Proprietary information
  • None

You must click on one of these options, or you will not be able to submit your request. If you select something other than "None", you will be given a text box to explain your answer. If necessary, NERSC will contact you to get more information.

Usage Monitoring Questions

If this project is given a NERSC award, I agree to monitor the usage associated with it to ensure that, to the best of my ability to determine, usage is for the project described here.

Select either "Yes" or "No."

You must answer this question or you will not be able to submit your ERCAP request.

Project Description

Project Summary

Please provide a succinct description of your project that is suitable for the general public (i.e., at a Scientific American level of sophistication). This description should emphasize what the project expects to accomplish and the significance of the work.

You can include a long, technical project description as a PDF document to upload in question 12.2.

Accomplishments Summary

Summarize in non-technical terms the accomplishments made by this project using NERSC resources in the previous year. Explain why your results are important and how the use of NERSC resources allowed you to meet your research objectives. This is optional for Startup requests.

You can include a long, technical description of your project's accomplishemnts as a PDF document to upload in question 13.2.

Refereed Publications

List all refereed publications in the last 12 months based on research using NERSC resources. You may include publications that are accepted and are in press, or published in journals but not publications in preparation. If this is a renewal request, Do Not include publications that were entered here last year. Please indicate if your article was highlighted on a journal cover.

Enter in the order authors, title, journal.

Please do not dump information from latex into this area!  Ideally you will enter all information as plain text.

Other Publications

Here you may include publications that have been submutted but not yet published, as well as non refereed publications.

Resources Requested

Computational Resources

NERSC's computational resources share a common "MPP" (which stands for Massively Parallel Processing) allocation. For 2019, the MPP systems will be Edison and Cori. See Usage Charging.

Project Directories

NGF project directories are renewed by entering the Storage Requested amounts in TiBs. Requested storage amounts over 10 TiBs will be reviewed by NERSC and may require additional justification and approval for higher amounts.

Archival Storage

All NERSC projects have accounts on the mass storage system, HPSS. The storage accounting units are GBs. See HPSS Charging for details.

Also, please enter how much HPSS Archival storage space you anticipate you will need. Please enter the number in Terabytes.

Enter how much Scratch space your project will need. Also in Terabytes.

Brief Justification for Resources Requested Above

Tell us how you determined/estimated the number of MPP hours and storage/scratch space you requested above.

Events or Deadlines Affecting Computational needs Through the Year

Please describe any time(s) this coming allocation year that you expect will spike your demand for resources.

Real-Time Computing Needs

Does your project require real-time computing resources? For example does your project require immediate access to computing resources because it is connected to a live experiment. Please select either "Yes" or "No". If you answer "Yes", you will be presented with a text box to explain your answer.

Code Description(s)

The code descriptions you provide are used by DOE and NERSC to evaluate the type and extent of machine resources that users require.

A code description should be provided for each of your project's 5 most frequently used codes and applications. 

If renewing, please check:

      1. That you still intend to use all of the codes listed - delete those you no longer use.
      2. Add new codes as needed.
      3. Check that the information provided for each code is still accurate.

The following information is requested for each code:

  • Code Name: This is the name by which your code is known, e.g. NIMROD, AMBER.
  • Code Description: Provide a brief description of the code. What does the code do, what are the science questions it addresses?
  • URL for Code Description

Other HPC Support

List High Performance Computing support from outside NERSC for this project you currently have or expect in the next year. Also, indicate if you have applied for a DOE INCITE award.

Additional Information

If your project has special requirements that you would like NERSC to consider, describe them here. Enter any additional information you would like the review committees to consider in support of this request.


Use this space to provide feedback on ERCAP, the NERSC application/allocation process

Submitting your request

When you have completed answering to your satisfaction all the questions on the request form click the "Submit for Review" button.  This will submit your request and send it to the appropriate Office to evaluate it.

Printing and saving to disk

      1. You should find a "Create PDF" button in the top right corner of the request.
      2. When you click this button, the ERCAP system will generate a PDF and attach it to your request. You should see the file name in the grey bar where the Create PDF button is located.
      3. You can then download the PDF and save it to your local computer and print it.

Advice on answering long text questions

It is not recommended that you directly type in long answers. Rather, compose your answers elsewhere, and paste them into the ERCAP text boxes.

Note for Internet Explorer users: some Explorer browsers interpret a carriage return (the Enter or Return key) in the short text boxes (the text boxes without a scroll bar) as a Save: if you enter a carriage control in a short text box it is as though you had clicked the Save button. Also note that you can use the Tab key to jump to the next text box.

Most of the text boxes have a maximum of 4,000 characters associated with them. If your answer exceeds 4,000 characters you will get an error message when you click Save. You should remove some of your text and try to Save again. 

ERCAP error messages

If you enter invalid data into a text box, ERCAP will detect the error situation when you click the Save button. You will see the following red error message on top of the tabs:

FOUND ERRORS ! Please scroll down to correct.
This form cannot be saved until errors are corrected.

You should scroll down until you find another red error message adjacent to the text box that contains the invalid data. Correct the error and click the Save button again. Your work cannot be saved until you have corrected the error.

A common error is entering more than 4,000 characters into a text box. In that case you would see the error message:

*Entered value too long

Correct your error and try saving your answers again by clicking the Save button.

Deleting a request

If you need to delete a request contact the Account Support Office for help: 1-800-66-NERSC menu 2, 1-510-486-8612, or