DOE expands Clean Energy Manufacturing Intiative; ORNL a partner on carbon-fiber project

carbonfiberAs a part of an expansion of its Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative, the Department of Energy today announced an additional $23 million in funding for 12 projects “to advance technologies aimed at helping American manufacturers dramatically increase the energy efficiency of their manufacturing facilities, lower costs and develop new manufacturing technologies.”

Oak Ridge National Laboratory will support a project headed by Graftech International Holdings Inc., based in Parma, Ohio. The project, titled, “Low-Cost, Bio-Based Carbon Fiber for High Temperature Processing,” will receive a total of $4.5 million from DOE. It’s not clear how much of that money will go to ORNL. Also collaborating on the project are the National Composites Center, Mascoma Corp., and Plasan Carbon Composites.

“As a viable alternative to petroleum-based carbon fibers made from biomass will be developed and evaluated for use in thermal insulation, such as that used for high-temperature furnaces used to manufacture solar panel components,” the project description states.

The program expansion and other related items were announced by DOE today at a competitiveness summit co-sponsored by the Council on Competitiveness. ORNL Director Thom Mason participated in the event.

In a statement, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said, “In part due to a dramatic increase in domestic energy production and the Obama Administration’s policies and support, the U.S. manufacturing sector has seen a resurgence in recent years, adding 700,000 jobs since 2009. Continued smart investments in advanced manufacturing technologies, and the American workforce today, will strengthen our competitive edge for decades to come.”

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About Frank Munger

Senior Writer Frank Munger covers the Dept. of Energy's Oak Ridge facilities and many related topics — nuclear weapons, nuclear waste and other things nuclear, environmental cleanup and science of all sorts. Atomic City Underground is, first and foremost, a news blog, but there's room for analysis, opinion and random thoughts that have no place else to go.