The manufacturing sector accounts for about 79% of total industrial energy use in the United States. Over the past century, the majority of manufacturing plants were designed for conventional technologies. New infrastructure, renewable energy resources and innovative energy technologies all have the potential to bring vast energy savings to the manufacturing sector. At the same time, if the manufacturing sector becomes more efficient, the manufacturing of new energy technologies will become more economically viable. However, incentivising the manufacturing sector to improve infrastructure and manufacturing processes, as well as to diversify energy sources is challenging due to high capital and operating costs.
Our research supports the US manufacturing industry by providing knowledge around the science of synthesis, new ways to use renewable resources as green manufacturing feedstocks, and understanding of the science of scale up to move from the lab to industry with minimal waste. These pillars allow new technologies to evolve and become viable. We are devoted to developing clean energy technologies for the manufacturing sector that lower costs and increase productivity and performance.
The following research groups are focused on solutions to help transform the manufacturing sector:
- The Energy Conversion Group is working to develop the science of new technologies and manufacturing pathways, chemicals, and materials and assemblies that can be used at scale to enable energy-efficient manufacturing processes.
- The Grid Integration Group is working to strengthen the evolving power grid to provide access to distributed energy resources to the manufacturing sector and understand the interplay of manufacturing needs with electricity generation and transmission.
- The Energy Storage Group works to advance next-generation battery technology that can decrease the capital cost of new infrastructure for the manufacturing sector and provide continuous manufacturing capabilities even with intermittent generation sources.
- The Laser Technologies Group develops novel rapid laser manufacturing technologies for 2D and 3D materials processing, functionalization and printing. We also specialize in versatile advanced manufacturing sensors and diagnostics for real-time quality control and quality assurance.
- The Applied Energy Materials Group is exploring ways to incorporate novel materials into manufacturing processes using data science and hierarchical integration of materials.
- The Thermal Energy Group is studying energy intensive manufacturing processes such as the drying of slurries for batteries and the photo-thermal curing of large plastic parts. Through modeling and experimentation, we are improving the efficiency of these and other processes and finding ways to utilize renewable sources of heat to power industrial manufacturing.