The U.S. Department of Energy is offering up to $70 million in funding for a new institute that will focus on smart manufacturing research and development.
The Innovation Institute on Smart Manufacturing will work on reducing the cost of sensors, controls, platforms, and modeling for manufacturing by as much as 50 percent.
The institute will demonstrate the technologies as part of a larger goal to increase energy efficiency by at least 15 percent and improve energy productivity by at least 50 percent.
“Smart manufacturing is a key information technology approach to unlocking energy efficiency in manufacturing,” said Ernest Moniz, DOE secretary. “These technologies will make industries from oil and gas to aerospace and food production more competitive with intelligent communications systems, real-time energy savings and increased energy productivity. Energy intensive industries, such as steelmaking, could see a 10 to 20 percent reduction in the cost of production, making products such as solar panels and chemical materials, such as plastics, as well as the cars and other products they go into, more affordable for American consumers.”
The manufacturing sector, a subset of the industrial sector, consumes 24 quads of primary energy annually in the United States—about 79 percent of total industrial energy use, according to the DOE. Industry experts estimate that investments in smart manufacturing could generate cost savings and new revenues that add up to $10-15 trillion to global gross domestic product over the next 20 year.
Part of Obama’s National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) institutes, the program will operate as a private-public partnership that seeks matching funds for the $70 million offered by the DOE.
The institute will work to bridge the gap between applied research and product development, and bring together federal agencies, companies, universities and other academic and training institutions to co-invest in key technology areas that encourage investment and production in the U.S.
The program is part of Obama’s goal to double U.S. energy efficiency by 2030.
The DOE has issued a request for proposals seeking applicants to undertake the institute’s work. A webinar will be held Oct. 6, 2015 on the RFP; concept papers are due Nov. 4, 2015 and full applications Jan. 29, 2016. The DOE expects to select winners in May.
The RFP is available on the EERE Funding Opportunity Exchange. See number DE-FOA-0001263.
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