Emerging Research Exploration – Project Descriptions

January 29, 2018

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The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) announced up to $35 million for 24 projects to support early-stage, innovative technologies and solutions in advanced manufacturing.

EERE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) works with universities, national laboratories, and for-profit and nonprofit partners to identify and solve technology challenges in manufacturing. This new funding opportunity and its resulting projects will allow EERE to perform early-stage research and development of new technologies and will encourage contributions from new partners. Successful projects will reduce the technical uncertainty and develop new knowledge associated with potential breakthrough materials, processes and tools for U.S. manufacturers that could improve their competitiveness and enhance their energy efficiency.

This funding opportunity addressed three topic areas that consisted of multiple subtopics including advanced materials, advanced processes, and modeling and analysis tools for materials and manufacturing.

Awardees are listed below.

SELECTEE NAME

SELECTEE LOCATION

Zip Code

DOE SHARE

PROJECT SUMMARY

AK Steel Corporation

Middletown, OH 

45005-2673

$1,231,300

AK Steel Corporation’s Research & Innovation Center will conduct alloy design, lab validation, manufacture, and testing of novel low density steels that possess mechanical properties exhibited by currently available advanced high strength steels.  These low density steels are expected to generate energy savings by bringing efficiencies in the steel manufacturing and lifetime savings by use of lightweight steel in automotive structural applications.

Argonne National Laboratory

Lemont, IL 

60439-4842

$1,600,000 

Argonne National Laboratory’s team will develop an advanced catalyst for polypropylene (a widely used polymer in consumer and industrial products) synthesis that outperforms conventional catalysts. The team will apply atomic layer deposition technology to fabricate and modify the catalyst at the atomic level, with the goal of more than doubling catalyst lifetime, improving selectivity and conversion efficiency at reduced costs.

Bio2Electric, LLC d.b.a. EcoCatalytic Technologies

Monmouth Junction, NJ 

08852-1976

$2,000,000

Bio2Electric’s project will demonstrate a novel conversion process to produce ethylene (a widely used commodity chemical) from natural gas, with the goal of reduced greenhouse gas emissions, lower reactor capital and lower operating expense compared to current industry practice.

Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois

Urbana, IL 

61801-3620

$1,000,000

The University of Illinois will conduct research to develop a composite plastic heat exchanger for a low temperature gas streams common in industry.  The project will demonstrate an inexpensive and modular heat exchanger that can recover heat from a typical simulated flue gas stream that will be resistant to corrosion compared to traditional metallic heat exchangers and provide greater heat recovery than comparable all-plastic heat exchanger designs.

Boston Electrometallurgical Corporation

Woburn, MA 

01801-1721

$2,000,000

Boston Electrometallurgical Corporation will employ support from the US Steel industry to accelerate the development of molten oxide electrolysis (MOE), a new technology for production of primary iron and steel from ore. MOE promises large savings in energy and carbon dioxide emissions as compared to existing technologies for producing primary iron and steel.

Colorado State University

Fort Collins, CO 

80523-1374

$1,882,881

Colorado State University will develop a novel, low-cost turbo-compression cooling system that utilizes the ultra-low-grade waste (less than 150°C) heat available in many industrial processes, the energy from which is not traditionally recovered. 

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Boston, MA 

02115-6013

$1,215,204

The Dana Farber project team will design and build billions of first-of-their-kind molecular 2D printers, that are atomically precise, and which could produce trillions of atomically precise products to advance atomically precise manufacturing.

Energy & Environmental Research Center

Grand Forks, ND 

58202-9018

$2,497,983

Energy & Environmental Research Center’s project seeks to develop a modular, scalable, electrochemical ammonia production process as an alternative to traditional energy intensive ammonia production processes.  The project includes development of a polymer–inorganic composite high-temperature proton exchange membrane, which is critical to meeting the project’s 16% energy reduction target.

FeNix Magnetics, Inc.

Lakewood, OH 

44107-3335

$798,624

FeNix Magnetics will develop an advanced fluidized bed reactor technology for the large scale production of rare earth element free magnetic material for clean energy applications.  These magnetic powders will enable lower cost and energy efficient magnetic refrigeration and HVAC chillers, as well as other clean energy applications such as electric vehicle motors and wind turbine generators.

Idaho National Laboratory

Idaho Falls, ID 

83402-1509

$1,000,000

Idaho National Lab will be conducting research to develop a new pathway to produce hydrocarbon feedstocks and fuels from ethane via an electrochemical process, as well as generating hydrogen.  For ethylene production, the new process has the potential to reduce process energy by 65% over traditional steam cracking technologies. 

Iowa State University

Ames, IA 

50011-2162

$854,039

Iowa State University’s goal for this project is to develop open source software tools for simulating non-equilibrium autothermal processes, to improve prospects for identifying and designing these systems.  The project will focus on pyrolysis of biomass as an initial example to demonstrate the open source software framework for the analysis of autothermal processes in gas-solid fluidized beds.  This software will also be extendable to other processing of gas-solid reactions, and potentially multiphase processes, due its broad potential reach in the chemical industry. 

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Livermore, CA 

94550-9234

$1,000,000

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s project will optimize the performance of copper-based catalysts by improving the energy efficiency and selectivity of these catalysts to convert carbon dioxide, an industrial waste product, into methane, a versatile fuel that is readily integrated into efforts to fuel vehicles and power plants. 

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Cambridge, MA 

02139-4307

$1,893,941

 

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) will develop a direct production process for copper wire, using molten sulfide electrolysis as a replacement for the traditional pyro-metallurgical process.  The energy savings impacts are expected to be significant, as this process would potentially use 50% less energy and result in an increase in productivity for copper production.

Michigan State University

East Lansing, MI 

48824-1226

$800,000

Michigan State University proposes to develop a hybrid surface engineering technology that combines the advantages of a novel, ultrafast, environmentally friendly, corrosion resistant, and mechanically supporting boriding process with the next generation of superhard wear resistant and low friction carbon coatings. The proposed technology could have substantial economic and environmental impact in applications such as automotive powertrains, industrial turbines and machinery and tooling in many industries.

Saint-Gobain Ceramics and Plastics, Inc.

Northborough, MA 

01532-1545

$822,357

Saint-Gobain’s project will develop a simultaneous multilayer roll-to-roll process platform that consolidates multiple layer manufacturing steps into fewer concurrent steps. The project targets lower cost and energy consumption, higher performance and reliability, and a reduced manufacturing footprint of multilayer particulate films including fuel cells, batteries, photovoltaics, and capacitors.  

Solar Turbines Incorporated

San Diego, CA 

92101-1745

$2,400,000

Solar Turbines Incorporated will be developing turbine blade coatings that will improve durability and erosion resistance, and reduce the need for blade cooling.  These improvements are expected to lead to lower emissions and increased turbine efficiency.

Starfire Industries LLC

Champaign, IL 

61820-0913

$800,000

Starfire will be developing novel material coatings using an innovative atmospheric cold plasma jet for corrosion protection, wear resistance and improved bonding strength. The initial application is to improve adhesive joint performance in lightweight vehicle construction. This technology has broad applicability for material bonding subject to harsh environmental exposure and load conditions in areas including aerospace, marine, ground vehicles, and performance consumer goods. 

Temple University

Philadelphia, PA 

19122-6014

$795,834

Temple University will design atomically precise structures using their unique molecular building blocks and software design tools to boost the reaction rate in polyester production, significantly improving energy efficiency in the chemical process industry.

United Technologies Research Center

East Hartford, CT 

06118-1127

$1,499,448

United Technologies Research Center will develop a high temperature, high strength, and low-cost heat exchanger technology made from a novel glass-ceramic matrix composite material system.  The technology will allow for longer operational life over traditional heat exchange technologies in a wide range of harsh service environments. 

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Los Angeles, CA 

90095-1569

$1,000,000

The UCLA-led team will develop high performance atomically sharp tools to grab and position molecules in order to build atomically precise structures, providing a significant advance in atomically precise manufacturing for a wide range of clean energy applications.

University of Maryland

College Park, MD 

20742-2115

$2,089,647

The University of Maryland project aims to improve the balance of electrical-mechanical-thermal properties in materials for electrical wiring, contributing to a future reduction in material usage and energy waste in the nation’s transmission-line networks and in microchips.  These new materials could be used to make conductors for power lines with higher strength and higher current carrying capacity and interconnects with longer lifetime in microelectronics.

University of Texas at Dallas

Dallas, TX

75080-3021

$2,417,938

University of Texas at Dallas project team aims to increase the operating speed of molecular assembler microscope tips by a factor of 100 to 1000 times using high-precision engineering and microfabrication technologies to advance atomically precise manufacturing for a wide range of clean energy applications.

Yale University

New Haven, CT 

06520-8286

$960,000

Yale University’s project is to enable practical energy generation from waste heat using pyroelectric materials with high efficiency and at low cost.  Pyroelectric materials can generate a voltage when heated or cooled, and conversion of waste heat to usable energy will have broad impact in industry.  

Zyvex Labs, LLC

Richardson, TX 

75081-2426

$2,457,452

The Zyvex team will create and test atomically precise materials in two dimensions using a Scanning Tunneling Microscope that can pull individual hydrogen atoms out of a surface and a coating procedure to substitute other atoms in their place.  This project will significantly advance atomically precise manufacturing for applications such as quantum computing and nanoelectronic computing devices.