President Obama Announces New Manufacturing Innovation Hub in Knoxville, Tennessee
A Knoxville-area based consortium of 122 companies, nonprofits, universities and research laboratories is partnering with the Department of Energy to create a more than $250 million manufacturing innovation institute focused on U.S. leadership in next-generation composite materials.
On January 9 the President announced the latest in a series of partnerships aimed at boosting advanced manufacturing, fostering American innovation, and attracting well-paying jobs that will strengthen the middle class. After a decade of decline, American manufacturing is coming back, adding 786,000 new jobs since February 2010. The new action is the kind of investment America need to build on this progress, creating the foundation needed for American manufacturing growth and competitiveness in the years to come.
The Department of Energy and a consortium of 122 companies, nonprofits, and universities led by the University of Tennessee-Knoxville will invest more than $250 million - $70 million in federal funds and more than $180 million in non-federal funds – to launch a Manufacturing Innovation Institute for Advanced Composites.
In addition to announcing the new hub, the President applauded the recent passage of bipartisan legislation in Congress that takes a significant step toward creating a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation consistent with his vision to strengthen the resurgence of American manufacturing and help to create new, 21st century job opportunities for American workers in high-demand sectors.
The new manufacturing innovation institute, the fifth institute to be awarded of the eight institute competitions launched, builds on the early successes of the first manufacturing innovation institute, America Makes in Youngstown, OH.
These institutes are an important part of revitalizing American manufacturing:
Strengthening U.S. Manufacturing’s Competitiveness with Leadership in Cutting-Edge Technologies - Each manufacturing institute serves as a regional hub, bridging the gap between applied research and product development by bringing together companies, universities and other academic and training institutions, and Federal agencies to co-invest in key emerging technology areas that can encourage investment and production in the U.S.
Preparing America’s Workers for Jobs in Manufacturing – Each institute, as a type of “teaching factory,” provides a unique opportunity for education and training of students and workers at all levels, while supporting the shared assets to help small manufacturers and other companies access the cutting-edge capabilities and equipment to design, test, and pilot new products and manufacturing processes.
Co-investing with the Private Sector - Proving the value of these technological advances to the competitiveness of industry, each institute is launched with a five year commitment of federal resources matched by that much or more invested from the private sector, with the intent that the institutes will become self-sustaining once mature.
In a significant step forward in bringing together the manufacturing institutes into a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, Congress passed the bipartisan Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation (RAMI) Act of 2014 in December as part of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015.
Realizing the President’s Vision for a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation. The bipartisan legislation builds on the progress made by the President through executive action, beginning in 2012 when the Department of Defense launched the first manufacturing institute, to create a network of institutes that together provide the foundation for American leadership in the manufacturing technologies that support our competitiveness for years to come.
Enacting Bipartisan Legislation to Establish that Network. The RAMI Act enables the institutes to come together as a network, to leverage shared expertise and common support services, and to create a governance structure across the institutes that can guide their success over the long term.
Demonstrating Significant Bipartisan Leadership in Congress. Introduced by Sens. Brown (D-OH) and Blunt (R-MO) in the Senate and Reps. Reed (R-NY) and Kennedy (D-MA) in the House, the RAMI Act attracted significant bipartisan support with 118 co-sponsors across the two chambers.
Background on the Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation Institute
The new institute the Department of Energy is awarding today will focus on cutting-edge research on advanced composites – such as carbon fiber – materials that are three times as strong and twice as light as the lightest metals.
Advanced fiber-reinforced polymer composites, which combine strong fibers with tough plastics, are lighter and stronger than steel. Advanced composites are currently used for expensive applications like satellites and luxury cars.
Bringing these materials down the cost curve can enable their use for a broader range of products including lightweight vehicles with record-breaking fuel economy; lighter and longer wind turbine blades; high pressure tanks for natural gas-fueled cars; and lighter, more efficient industrial equipment.
Advanced composites are especially important for progressing clean energy generation and improving the efficiency of the nation’s fleet.
In the wind energy industry, advances in low-cost composite materials will help manufacturers build longer, lighter and stronger blades to create more energy.
By doubling the length of a turbine blade these materials can help quadruple the amount of electricity generated.
In automotive applications, advanced composites could reduce the weight of a passenger car by 50 percent and improve its fuel efficiency by roughly 35 percent without compromising performance or safety – helping to save American families more than $5,000 in fuel costs over the car’s lifetime.
The Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation will work to develop lower-cost, higher-speed, and more efficient manufacturing and recycling processes for advanced composites.
The Institute will focus on lowering the overall manufacturing costs of advanced composites by 50 percent, reducing the energy used to make composites by 75 percent and increasing the recyclability of composites to over 95 percent within the next decade.
The Institute has assembled a world-class team of organizations from across the industry, including leading manufacturers, material suppliers and software developers, government and academia, with both broad and deep experience in all aspects of the advanced composite product development process from design and prototyping to manufacturing at commercial scale.
The new institute pairs leading carbon fiber producers and suppliers – like Materials Innovation Technologies, Harper International, and Strongwell – with key end users like TPI for wind turbines and Ford for automobiles.
The new hub will also unite these manufacturers with top-flight research universities, such as the University of Tennessee with its pioneering 3D printed carbon fiber research, and the University of Kentucky with the largest U.S. open-access carbon-fiber chemistry laboratory.
The combined resources and expertise of the team will provide a leap forward in composite manufacturing and further enhance U.S. competitiveness in clean energy as the team cultivates additional new partnerships.