NERSCPowering Scientific Discovery Since 1974

Allocations Overview and Eligibility

Allocations Overview

Most allocations of NERSC computer time and archival storage are awarded by DOE and managed by NERSC. There is no monetary charge to the project that receives the award. The awarded research groups are given project accounts, known as repositories (or repos), with a given amount of computing hours and an archival storage allocation. Resource usage (computer time or archival storage) is charged against the repository, like a withdrawal from a bank account. Once the account is exhausted, users can no longer charge against that account.

NERSC supports several allocation programs:

Allocation Type% of DOE AllocationDescription
DOE Production 80% Awards are made by DOE program managers in the six offices of science and SBIR. Applicants need to be part of a research project funded by the DOE Office of Science or show that their work meets the DOE mission.


10% ASCR Leadership Computing Challenge: a DOE program run by ASCR to promote areas of interest to DOE. See the ALCC web page.
NERSC Director's Reserve 10% This is for projects selected by the NERSC Director.
Education, Exploratory N/A

Small awards made by NERSC from NERSC overhead time.

Requests to use NERSC resources are submitted annually via a web form. The process is known as ERCAP (Energy Research Computing Allocations Process). The ERCAP request form is accessed through the NERSC Help Desk interface ( While the majority of DOE Production awards are made once a year, the ERCAP process is open year-round. In particular, Exploratory and Education (for HPC related classes) allocation requests may be submitted at any time (see the Application Deadlines page for variations to this policy).


All work done at NERSC must be within the DOE Office of Science mission.  See the Mission descriptions for each office (linked to in the Table of Contents).  If you are not funded by the DOE Office of Science you should explain how your research falls within/supports the DOE mission.

Principal Investigators and PI Proxies

In general, Principal Investigators on projects allocated at NERSC are also PIs on a research grant. Senior researchers whose research is relevant to the Office of Science may also become new Principal Investigators.

An existing NERSC user may apply for a new project allocation as a new PI:

  1. Point your browser to, and login with your NIM credentials.
  2. Select Request a NERSC Allocation from the left-hand menu.
  3. Click the button labeled "New".

A Principal Investigator who is new to NERSC and does not yet have a NERSC login should follow the instructions in Applying for your First NERSC Allocation.

PI Proxies

A Principal Investigator can designate one or more "PI Proxies" who help fill out the request form and to manage the project's users. You can check whether one of your existing projects has a PI Proxy associated with it by entering your repository name in the Quick Search text box at the top of the NIM web page (make sure Repository is selected in the Quick Search pull-down) and clicking Go.

Designate a PI Proxy for a New Project

To designate a PI Proxy before making a request for a brand new project: when filling out the ERCAP Access Request Form be sure to include information on the person you wish to designate as your "proxy". This will allow the Proxy to make the request on behalf of the PI.

Add a new Proxy to an Existing Request

Once a request has been started, a PI or PI Proxy can add a new Proxy for that request by clicking the Add a preparer (PI Proxy) link for question 2.

Remove a Proxy

Before renewing a request, the PI and PI Proxies can remove a Proxy from a current project by changing the Proxy's role to User or Deleted. See NIM Guide for PIs.

Once a request is renewed for the next allocation year all Proxies are "renewed" as well. To delete the Proxy in this case, please call Account Support at 510-486-8612.

Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) Mission

The mission of the Advanced Scientific Computing Research program is to discover, develop, and deploy the computational and networking tools that enable researchers in the scientific disciplines to analyze, model, simulate, and predict complex phenomena important to the Department of Energy.

The Applied Mathematics research program focuses on mathematical research and software that impact the future of high-performance computing, especially creating and improving algorithms.

The Computer Science research program supports research that enables computing at extreme scales and the understanding of extreme scale data from both simulations and experiments. It aims to make scientific computers as easy and effective to use as possible.

The Distributed Network Environment research program focuses on end-to-end of high-performance, high-capacity and middleware network technologies necessary to provide secure access to distributed science facilities, high-performance computing recourses and large-scale scientific collaborations.

Basic Energy Sciences (BES) Mission

The Basic Energy Sciences (BES) program supports fundamental research to understand, predict, and ultimately control matter and energy at the electronic, atomic, and molecular levels in order to provide the foundations for new energy technologies.

The Materials Sciences and Engineering Division supports experimental and theoretical research to provide the knowledge base for the discovery and design of new materials with novel structures, functions, and properties. This knowledge serves as a basis for the development of new materials for the generation, storage, and use of energy and for mitigation of the environmental impacts of energy use.

The Chemical Sciences, Geosciences, and Biosciences Division supports experimental, theoretical, and computational research to provide fundamental understanding of chemical transformations and energy flow in systems relevant to DOE missions.

The Scientific User Facilities Division supports the R&D, planning, construction, and operation of scientific user facilities for the development of novel nano-materials and for materials characterization through x-ray, neutron, and electron beam scattering; the former is accomplished through five Nanoscale Science Research Centers and the latter is accomplished through the world's largest suite of synchrotron radiation light source facilities, neutron scattering facilities, and electron-beam microcharacterization centers.

Biological and Environmental Research (BER) Mission

Biological and Environmental Research mission priorities are to:

  • Develop biofuels as a major secure national energy resource
  • Understand relationships between climate change and Earth’s ecosystems, and assess options for carbon sequestration
  • Predict fate and transport of subsurface contaminants
  • Develop new tools to explore the interface of biological and physical sciences

The Biological Systems Science Division supports fundamental research and technology development to achieve a predictive, systems-level understanding of complex biological systems.

The Climate and Environmental Sciences Division focuses on a predictive, systems-level understanding of the fundamental science associated with climate change and DOE's environmental challenges

Fusion Energy Sciences (FES) Mission

The Fusion Energy Sciences mission is to expand the fundamental understanding of matter at very high temperatures and densities and to develop the scientific foundations needed to develop a fusion energy source. This is accomplished by studying plasmas and their interactions with their surroundings under a wide range of temperature and density, developing advanced diagnostics to make detailed measurements of their properties, and creating theoretical and computational models to resolve the essential physics.

The physics of plasmas is at the heart of understanding how stars shine and evolve over billions of years. Plasmas, essentially hot gases of ions and electrons, are found in environments as familiar as fluorescent lighting and lightning bolts, as unimaginably harsh as the centers of stars, and as exotic as the environments surrounding super massive black holes. The science of plasma physics that describes the plasmas in these environments also describes the auroras that gently illuminate the northern and southern skies and the solar corona, where temperatures are far higher than on the sun’s surface. At the scale of the very small, plasma physics and materials science combine to enable the exquisitely precise manufacture of semiconductors. Plasma science is also at the heart of advances in efficiencies in the lighting industry.

High Energy Physics (HEP) Mission

The mission of the High Energy Physics program is to understand how our universe works at its most fundamental level. We do this by discovering the most elementary constituents of matter and energy, exploring the basic nature of space and time itself, and probing the interactions between them. These fundamental ideas are at the heart of physics and hence all of the physical sciences. To enable these discoveries, HEP supports theoretical and experimental research in both elementary particle physics and fundamental accelerator science and technology.

Nuclear Physics (NP) Mission

The mission of the Nuclear Physics program is to discover, explore, and understand all forms of nuclear matter. The fundamental particles that compose nuclear matter - quarks and gluons - are relatively well understood, but exactly how they fit together and interact to create different types of matter in the universe is still not fully explained. To solve this mystery, NP supports experimental and theoretical research - along with the development and operation of particle accelerators and advanced technologies - to create, detect, and describe the different forms and complexities of nuclear matter that can exist in the universe, including those that are no longer found naturally.

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Mission

The mission of the SBIR program is to:

  • Stimulate technological innovation
  • Use small business to meet Federal R/R&D needs
  • Foster and encourage participation by the socially and economically disadvantaged small businesses, and those that are 51 percent owned and controlled by women, in technological innovation
  • Increase private sector commercialization of innovations derived from Federal R/R&D, thereby increasing competition, productivity, and economic growth