The Department of Energy (DOE) announced on Monday that approximately $187 million in funding is being made available for 55 projects across 25 states to support research and development in innovative advanced manufacturing.

According to the DOE, projects have been chosen in the fields of critical manufacturing technologies, materials science, and process technology. A statement from the DOE said that the funding will help to “advance the Trump Administration’s goal to strengthen domestic manufacturing competitiveness and position the United States for global leadership in advanced manufacturing.”

“The manufacturing sector is on the leading edge of American innovation and plays an integral role in our economy,” said U.S. Under Secretary of Energy, Mark W. Menezes. “By investing in advanced manufacturing projects that enhance energy productivity, we’re supporting the competitiveness of the entire U.S. manufacturing industry.”

The Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) at the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy will provide funding for the projects. One of the tasks of the AMO is to support R&D projects that “explore novel energy-efficient, next-generation materials and innovative process technologies” that have a high impact or lead to significant energy savings. The AMO also seeks to bring together R&D consortia from industry, academia, and government, while fostering technical partnerships.

Projects will be funded in three areas, with the first tranche of $124.6 million set aside for 36 projects surrounding innovations for the manufacture of advanced materials. This will include the development of novel manufacturing processes to boost battery production in the United States, energy-storage materials to promote innovation in heating and cooling technologies, as well as focusing on special materials that can withstand extreme environments.

Over half of the $124.6 million will go to funding the DOE’s Energy Storage Grand Challenge, which aims to boost American battery technology by lowering the cost of energy storage via innovations in manufacturing. Announced at the end of January by Secretary of Energy, Dan Brouillette, the vision for the Challenge is “to create and sustain global leadership in energy storage utilization and exports, with a secure domestic manufacturing supply chain that does not depend on foreign sources of critical materials.” According to the DOE, the Grand Challenge will help American innovators bring new energy storage solutions to market, while ensuring the United States continues to play a leading role in energy storage technologies globally.

“Energy storage is key to capturing the full value of our diverse energy resources,” said Brouillette. “Through this Grand Challenge, we will deploy the Department’s extensive resources and expertise to address the technology development, commercialization, manufacturing, valuation, and workforce challenges to position the U.S. for global leadership in the energy storage technologies of the future.”

A second portion of $28.7 million is earmarked for eight projects that focus on lowering thermal requirements for industrial processes, thus improving industrial efficiency and productivity. These projects will research innovative heating and drying methods for industrial processes, which, if realized, would lead to substantial cost savings and make American manufacturing more competitive. Heating and cooling processes are an area where substantial energy savings could be made, as they make up approximately 70 percent of all energy used in manufacturing processes in the United States.

The third portion will fund manufacturing systems and energy solutions centered around flexibility and efficiency, with some $33.5 million set aside for funding eleven such projects. These initiatives will focus on making power conversion equipment more efficient, the conversion of process energies into electrical energy, improving grid integration, and advanced semiconductor technologies. More efficient combined heat and power systems will also be a focus.

For example, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, will receive $3.2 million from the DOE to assist in the development of special electronic devices that can withstand extreme operating environments. Another funding recipient will be Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts, where almost $3.5 million in funding will help develop innovative and energy-efficient drying processes and technologies for energy-intensive manufacturing systems such as those found in the foodstuffs and paper-making industries.

Further information on individual projects can be found here.

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