The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) has issued a request for information (DE-FOA-0001158) on mid- Technology Readiness Level (TRL) research and development (R&D) needs, market challenges, supply chain challenges and shared facility needs in addressing advanced manufacturing development challenges impacting clean energy manufacturing. Submissions are due by 3 October.
Within the manufacturing sector, energy-intensive manufacturing industries account for nearly 75% of all the energy used (more than 20% of national energy use) and offer one of the largest opportunities for potential energy reductions. These industries produce and process basic materials and chemicals that go into many end-use consumer and industrial products. Energy intense industries include primary metals (e.g., steel, aluminum, metal-casting), chemicals/petrochemicals, oil and gas refining, bio-manufacturing (e.g., pulp and paper), and nonmetallic minerals (e.g., glass, cement).
AMO is particularly interested in the challenges associated with advanced manufacturing technology which might be overcome by pre-competitive collaborations conducted via a Clean Energy Manufacturing Innovation Institute.
AMO recently completed a broad RFI on this topic area1. The intent of the new RFI is to narrow the focus of a possible Clean Energy Manufacturing Institute and invite discussion on a set of the following specific focus areas. The Topical/Technical Focus Areas under consideration in this RFI are:
Advanced Materials Manufacturing (AMM)
Advanced Sensing, Control, and Platforms for Manufacturing (ASCPM)
High-Efficiency Modular Chemical Processes (HEMCP)
High Value Roll-to-Roll Manufacturing (R2R)
Advanced Materials Manufacturing (AMM). The AMO is investigating the potential for both high-throughput computational and experimental tools in a consortium/institute framework for the accelerated development of new materials of critically enabling capability for clean energy applications.
This AMM effort would expand on and complement the Materials Genome Initiative (MGI). Examples of such capacity include the MIT/Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBNL) Materials Project, the NSF sponsored Network for Computational Nanotechnology led by Purdue and the NIST sponsored Center for Hierarchical Materials Design (CHiMaD) led by Northwestern, which focus on design, development and manufacturing of materials and components, rather than on fundamental materials discovery alone.
Advanced Sensing, Control and Platforms for Manufacturing. For this RFI, Advanced Sensing, Control and Platforms for Manufacturing (ASCPM) (“Smart Manufacturing”) is defined as a network data-driven process that combines innovative automation, and advanced sensing and control to integrate manufacturing intelligence in real-time across an entire production operation while minimizing energy and material use.
AMO is particularly interested in identifying the R&D needs for the development of affordable, advanced industrial data collection sensors and management systems, industrial community modeling and simulation platforms, and technologies that enable enterprise wide integration to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from manufacturing and to support US manufacturing competitiveness.
High-Efficiency Modular Chemical Processes (HEMCP). High-Efficiency Modular Chemical Processes (HEMCP), often referred to as Process Intensification, aims to provide an open-source platform that catalyzes a revolution in chemical processing from large-scale, fixed-asset chemical plants to small-scale, high-efficiency, deployable, plug-and-play reactors and separation equipment that leverage US manufacturing capabilities and enable more innovative and environmentally friendly processing.
The current paradigm in continuous process technology relies on economies of scale to achieve efficient and economic operation. The result is that the construction of economically competitive chemical plants typically requires huge capital expenditures and therefore has a high degree of capital risk. As a consequence, the adoption of new technology is extremely risky and innovation is often stifled. Moreover, such centralized processes are ill-suited for adapting to rapidly changing market demands and cannot be re-deployed closer to new resources or markets.
The shift to small-scale is motivated by the following:
technologies for automating processes exist today that were previously unavailable—enabling massively parallel operation and undercutting the savings that could previously only be achieved through economies of scale;
mass production of many small standardized units can achieve capital cost savings comparable or superior to economies of scale (e.g., ~ $30/kW mass-produced auto engines versus ~ $1000/kW large-scale power plants);
small-scale enables unprecedented flexibility to adapt product output to changing market demand and to locate manufacturing processes closer to resources and/or markets;
self-contained, modular units can be deployed in remote regions, allowing the economic utilization of currently inaccessible domestic assets; and
continuous learning through production numbers will support the rapid integration of technological innovation.
The fundamental technical challenge in scaling down processes is maintaining high efficiency at comparable capital cost per unit output. Large-scale processes rely on near isothermal operation as an approach to high efficiency. HEMCP intends to address this through better thermal integration; reduced or combined process steps; and the implementation of novel process intensification technologies, such as catalytic membrane reactors, micro-channel heat exchangers, centrifugal reactors, low-thermal budget process energetic and other integrated reaction-separation technologies.
High Value Roll-to-Roll Manufacturing (R2R). High Value Roll-to-Roll Manufacturing is used to support a wide range of products in applications which span many clean energy sectors. The R2R technique is considered to be high throughput and high value-added two-dimensional (2D) process methods that involve deposition of material(s) over large areas onto moving webs or carriers or other continuous substrates. The successive deposition steps of heterogeneous materials build a final construction which support these deposited materials in a functional finished structure.
Current technologies which typify roll to roll processes include tape casting; slot-die coating; screen printing; reel to reel vacuum deposition/coating; and R2R lithography.
The current challenge for R2R is the development of energy efficient, low environmental impact, ultra-low cost R2R equipment, process and production capabilities to manufacture high quality clean energy products and applications for energy saving applications.