Energy Department Enlists AIChE To Lead Manufacturing USA Institute

Dec. 12, 2016
The $140 million investment aims to revolutionize energy-intensive industries.

Acting Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy David Friedman names the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) to lead the tenth Manufacturing USA Institute to be stood up during the Obama administration. The announcement reportedly represents a critical step in the administration’s effort to double U.S. energy productivity by 2030. Acting Assistant Secretary Friedman announced the new institute at the U.S. Council on Competitiveness’ 2016 National Competitiveness Forum.

Leveraging up to $70 million in federal funding, subject to appropriations, and an additional $70 million in private cost-share commitments from over 130 partners, the Rapid Advancement in Process Intensification Deployment (RAPID) Institute will focus on developing breakthrough technologies to boost domestic energy productivity and energy efficiency by 20 percent in five years through manufacturing processes in industries such oil and gas, pulp and paper and various domestic chemical manufacturers, according to the DOE.

Traditional chemical manufacturing relies on large-scale, energy-intensive processing. The new Institute will leverage approaches to modular chemical process intensification — like combining multiple, complex processes such as mixing, reaction, and separation into single steps — with the goal of improving energy productivity and efficiency, cutting operating costs and reducing waste. In the chemical industry alone, these technologies reportedly have the potential to save more than $9 billion in process costs annually.

“Our investment in this cross-cutting technology is an investment in the future of U.S. manufacturing,” says Acting Assistant Secretary Friedman. “As we expand the Manufacturing USA network, we provide greater opportunities for businesses of all sizes to solve their toughest technology challenges and unleash major savings in energy-intensive sectors like oil and gas, pulp and paper-making and other industries.”

The RAPID Institute will serve as an American manufacturing leader convening companies, universities, industrial research organizations and national laboratories to focus on new technologies that maximize processes at the molecular level. It is the fourth Energy Department-led institute in the multi-agency network known as Manufacturing USA (also known as the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation).

Collectively, the federal government’s commitment of more than $700 million to the ten awarded Manufacturing USA Institutes has been matched by more than $1.4 billion in non-federal investment from across industry, academia and state governments, according to DOE. The institutes, each led by manufacturing experts renowned in their field, have reportedly attracted over 1,300 companies, universities and non-profits as members of Manufacturing USA.

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