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Energy 101: Clean Energy Manufacturing

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Most of us have a basic understanding of manufacturing. It's how we convert raw materials, components, and parts into finished goods that meet our essential needs and make our lives easier. But what about clean energy manufacturing? Clean energy and advanced manufacturing have the potential to rejuvenate the U.S. manufacturing industry and open pathways to increased American competitiveness.

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Below is the text version for the Energy 101: Clean Energy Manufacturing video.

The words “Energy 101 Clean Energy Manufacturing” appears on the screen, followed by a montage of manufacturing activity.

Most of us have a basic understanding of manufacturing. It's how we convert raw materials, components, and parts into finished goods that meet our essential needs and make our lives easier.

 

Additional shots of manufacturing activities, followed by a graphic saying, “Clean Energy Manufacturing.”

 

But what about clean energy manufacturing? Think of it as taking manufacturing to the next level.

 

Close-up footage of a containment tank being manufactured, using advanced composites.

 

Footage of 3D printing and advanced lithium battery manufacturing.

 

Some clean energy manufacturers use innovative technologies to improve manufacturing products or processes by reducing energy use and waste. 

 

Close-up footage of 3D printing.

 

Others use cutting-edge advanced manufacturing techniques like 3D printing to save time and energy or to build other clean energy technologies like wind turbines and solar panels.

 

Montage of manufacturing activity.

 

Clean energy and advanced manufacturing have the potential to boost the U.S. manufacturing industry and open pathways to increased American competitiveness.

 

So what does clean energy manufacturing look like?

 

Footage of a containment tank being manufactured, followed by a graphic saying, “Advanced Fiber-Reinforced Polymer Composites.”

 

Well, one example is advanced fiber-reinforced polymer composites.  These innovative materials combine strong fibers with tough plastics, so that the end product is stronger but lighter than steel. American manufacturers already use advanced composites in products such as aircraft and satellites.

 

Close-up footage of advanced composite manufacturing.

 

But, as manufacturing processes for making advanced composites become faster and more efficient, lower costs will unleash these materials in other industries, too—including clean energy industries.

 

Footage of an electric vehicle, followed by footage of additional clean energy technologies.

 

For example, advanced composites could help manufacturers make lightweight vehicles with record-breaking fuel economy; lighter and longer wind turbine blades; and strong high-pressure tanks for natural-gas-fueled cars.

 

Close-up footage of advanced composites being used for vehicle parts. Graphic on screen reads, “Advanced Composites – 50% Weight Reduction in Vehicles” and “Advanced Composites – 25% Improved Fuel Efficiency”.

 

Let’s look at their potential benefits for vehicles. Advanced composites could reduce the weight of a vehicle’s body and chassis by as much as 50%, and improve fuel efficiency by about 25% without compromising performance or safety. 

 

Footage of an electric vehicle driving on a street and being charged.

 

This could help save thousands in fuel costs over the lifetime of an average vehicle.

 

Footage of advanced batteries being in vehicles. Graphic on screen reads, “Advanced Battery Technology”

 

Another example of clean energy manufacturing is advanced battery technology for plug-in electric vehicles.

 

Footage of an electric vehicle driving being charged and a series of different batteries.

 

Most plug-in electric vehicles today use lithium-ion batteries, which already offer an excellent power-to-weight ratio, high-energy efficiency, and long life.

 

But through advanced manufacturing, new advancements in lithium-ion battery production has led to significant cost reductions—this makes for cheaper batteries, and more plug-in electric vehicles on the streets.

 

Footage of a 3D printing learning laboratory.

 

Advanced manufacturing means more than just making high-tech products. It also includes using new, leading-edge machines and processes to streamline productivity – saving time, energy, and money.

 

Close-up footage of 3D printing. Graphic on screen reads, “3D Printing – Additive Manufacturing”

One example is 3D printing, or additive manufacturing.

 

Footage of a 3D printing learning laboratory.

 

With this breakthrough process, product development no longer begins on a draftsman's table.

 

Footage of a 3D model on a computer screen.

 

Instead, additive manufacturing creates 3D objects directly from a computer model, reducing wasted materials and saving energy. 

 

So how does it work? 3D printing produces an object from scratch by adding material in successive layers. Similar to how an inkjet printer deposits tiny dots of ink to make a 2D image.

 

Close-up footage of 3D printing.

 

3D printers can create nearly any object imaginable by depositing materials right where they are needed.

 

This fast-developing new technique will likely make a huge impact in manufacturing, as it gives industry new design flexibility, reduces energy use, and shortens time to market.

 

Montage of products produced through 3D printing.

 

Graphic on screen reads, “Clean Energy, Automotive, Electronics, Aviation, Pharmaceuticals, and Food.”

 

A variety of industries are exploring 3D printing, including clean energy, automotive, electronics, aviation, pharmaceuticals, and food.

 

Montage of manufacturing activity.

 

So as you can see, clean energy manufacturing is changing the way we do business – from the kinds of products we build, to the ways we build them. And it’s making America more competitive.

 

Clean energy manufacturing: recharging and revolutionizing American manufacturing.

 

White screen with the words, “Energy 101 Clean Energy Manufacturing, For more information visit: eere.energy.gov.”