US Department of Energy hones in on energy-efficient manufacturing

29 Mar 2013

As part of the Energy Department's launch of the Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative, Assistant Secretary David Danielson toured the new Carbon Fiber Facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Photo courtesy of Jason Richards, Oak Ridge National Laborat

The US Department of Energy has this week launched a new drive aimed at breathing new life into the country’s manufacturing sector. Termed Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative (CEMI), it will focus on growing the manufacturing of clean energy products by US companies.

The new initiative will also aim to boost the competitiveness of US manufacturing companies by introducing improvements in manufacturing energy productivity.

The Department of Energy is set to make a US$23.5m investment in five manufacturing R&D projects. This latest investment comes on the back of the Department’s US$54m investment in 13 projects during the first round of selections last June.

Among the projects that will avail of funding, these cover R&D in computational modelling and simulation for automation and equipment, steel heat treatment processing and waste heat minimisation manufacturing.

Ford Motor Company, for instance, will lead a project at its Dearborn, Michigan, headquarters, to develop a highly-flexible, energy-efficient, double-sided sheet metal forming tool that it believes will be capable of creating features on both sides of sheet metal, eliminating the need for castings and dies.

According to Ford, the new technology will reduce material scrap by 70pc and energy consumption by 70pc.

The assistant secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy David Danielson announced details about CEMI at the opening of the Department of Energy’s carbon fibre technology facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, earlier this week.

“We are at a critical moment in the history of energy in our nation.  Over just the last seven years, global investment in the clean energy sector has grown nearly five-fold to over US$260bn and these markets will grow into the trillions of dollars in the years to come,” said Danielson. 

He said that the US faces a “stark” choice: “The energy technologies of the future can be developed and manufactured in America for export around the world, or we can cede global leadership and import these technologies from other nations,” said Danielson.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic