Canadian Manufacturing

U.S. launches clean energy manufacturing program, opens Carbon Fiber Technology Facility

The Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative will provide more funding, support for manufacturers of clean energy products

Washington—The U.S. Energy Department today announced additional funding for the clean energy manufacturing sector through a new program called the Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative (CEMI).

“Over just the last seven years, global investment in the clean energy sector has grown nearly five-fold to over US$260 billion and these markets will grow into the trillions of dollars in the years to come,” said David Danielson, assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy.

“As part of President Obama’s plan to revitalize American manufacturing, the Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative will seize this opportunity to ensure U.S. leadership in the clean energy sector and advance the global competitiveness of American manufacturers.”

Today the Energy Department handed out US$23.5 million in grants for five different clean energy projects to the Colorado School of Mines, the Ford Motor Company, Novomer Inc., Tiax LLC and the University of Texas at Austin. The government also doled out $54 million for 13 clean energy projects last June.

“Manufacturing develops and produces many of the process and materials technologies that advance the competitiveness and growth of the entire economy, including the much larger service sector,” Dr. Robert W. Ivester, acting program director for the Advanced Manufacturing Office.” In fact, manufacturing has a larger multiplier effect –a dollar spent in manufacturing drives an additional $1.35 in economic activity—than any other major part of the economy.”

The government also announced another US$15 million of funding to help reduce the manufacturing cost of solar energy technology.

Through CEMI, existing initiatives like the Better Plants Challenge and the Industrial Assessment Centers that provide energy assessments free of charge for manufacturers, will be able to offer additional energy productivity training and technical assistance.

The announcements were made today at the opening of the 42,000 square-foot Carbon Fiber Technology Facility at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Oakridge, Tenn., which will allow manufacturers to develop and test components made from carbon fibre products.

Right now the facility includes a 390-foot melt-spun fibre line to produce raw fibre materials. An additional line is expected to be added in several months. Its yearly output of carbon fibre will reach about 25 tons.

The Energy Department says carbon fiber has the potential to allow car-makers to reduce vehicle weight by up to 750 pounds by 2020. Passenger car weight could potentially be reduced by half and fuel efficiency could be improved by 35 per cent.

The material also has potential to reduce costs and improve performance of wind energy and storage components, electronics, power transmission and aerospace technologies.

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