The Department of Energy (DOE) announced that approximately $40 million from its Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) will be made available for two new programs to develop technologies that shift cars and trucks off oil.
The Modern Electro/Thermochemical Advancements for Light-metal Systems (METALS) program, which gets half the available funding, will develop innovative technologies for cost-effective processing and recycling of Aluminum, Magnesium and Titanium. These metals have high strength-to-weight ratios that make them ideal for creating lighter vehicles that can save fuel and reduce carbon emissions.
The Reducing Emissions using Methanotrophic Organisms for Transportation Energy (REMOTE) program will use the other $20 million to develop transformational biological technologies to convert gas to liquids for transportation fuels. This program aims to lower the cost of gas to liquids conversion while enabling the use of low-cost, domestically sourced natural gas for transportation, and reducing emissions.
The DOE has also made $23.5 million available for five new research and development projects that focus on reducing energy use and costs for U.S. manufacturers, called The Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative. It is intended to increase U.S. competitiveness in clean energy product production and in manufacturing generally by increasing energy productivity.
Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford Motor Company will lead a project to develop a highly flexible energy-efficient sheet metal forming tool that can simultaneously create features on both sides of sheet metal, eliminating the need for customized castings and dies. The new technology is expected to reduce material scrap and energy consumption by 70 percent, while lowering production cost by 90 percent.
A team at the University of Texas at Austin will develop a tool that integrates performance metrics, models, and simulations with real-time plant energy data, which will help manufacturers increase energy productivity, reduce waste, and improve energy efficiency by up to 30 percent.
Colorado School of Mines will partner with companies to develop a new manufacturing process that replaces hot stamping (typically 1650°F) for making advanced high-strength, lightweight steels with a room-temperature stamping technique. This process is expected to dramatically reduce costs and energy use for aircraft, vehicle and large equipment production.
Ithaca, New York-based Novomer will lead a project that converts waste CO2 from industrial sources and ethane-derivatives from shale gas into chemical intermediates that are used in paint, coatings, textiles, diapers, and plastic polymers. The process is expected to reduce cradle-to-grave energy use by 20 to 40 percent.
TIAX LLC, based in Lexington, Massachusetts, and Green Mountain Coffee will develop a technology that converts waste heat from manufacturing and industrial processes to electric power, including reducing the energy needed by coffee roasters.
The DOE also opened a Carbon Fiber Technology Facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, the result of a $35 million government grant. The 42,000 square foot facility provides clean energy companies and researchers with a place to test the development of less expensive and better performing carbon fibers and manufacturing processes.
Carbon fiber is a critical material for lightweight vehicles, wind turbines, and other consumer and industrial products. The DOE’s hope is that carbon fiber will lower the cost and improve the performance of fuel-efficient vehicles, wind energy and energy storage components, electronics, power transmission, aerospace technologies, and other items.
The ventures come on the heels of a $54 million investment in 13 other government-subsidized endeavors announced in June 2012 that focus on American clean energy manufacturing.
To read the ARPA-E Cleaner Transportation Initiative press release, click here
To read the DOE New Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative press releases, click here