While the nation is focused on clean energy production, manufacturing is starting to become a major component in advancing the efforts. Under the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, eight federal institutes have been launched. Three of these are being overseen by the Energy Department.
These manufacturing institutes are making waves in America’s clean energy economy in a few different ways:
1. New lightweight materials
The University of Tennessee Knoxville-led Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation announced a new industry collaboration facility in Detroit dealing with lowering the cost of advanced composites like carbon fiber.
These lightweight materials could be beneficial for clean energy technology in a couple different ways. They can be used in manufacturing wind power blades that will be able to generate more electricity. Also, advanced composites can reduce the weight of passenger cars, which will help boost efficiency without sacrificing performance and safety.
2. Advanced power electronics
North Carolina State University-led Power America is focusing on using wide bandgap semiconductors to create a new generation of advanced power electronics. These wide bandgap semiconductors allow electronic components to be smaller, faster and more energy efficient. With this technology, basically anything using electricity will benefit from efficiency.
3. Smart manufacturing
Funding is now available for NNMI Institute for smart manufacturing and will attempt to increase the productivity of American manufacturing facilities through smart manufacturing efforts. This will include looking into reducing the cost of deployment of advanced sensors, controls, information technology and advanced modeling and computation by as much as 50 percent.
Without the growing field and technologies of manufacturing, many advancements in clean energy wouldn’t be possible.