Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, is the construction of 3-dimensional objects from a digital model. Objects can be manufactured by depositing, joining, or solidifying materials together, typically layer-by-layer. This avoids the material waste of subtractive manufacturing, where a material is shaped by removing material from a solid block.
A composite material is a combination of two or more components that, when combined, creates a material with unique properties that are difficult to achieve with a single material. Use of composite materials for transportation and clean energy applications often leads to lifecycle energy efficiency improvements due to composites’ high strength-to-weight ratio. For example, windmill blades made from lightweight carbon fiber composites can be longer than traditional fiberglass materials, allowing them to capture more energy.
Materials with enhanced conductivity support transformational technologies for decarbonization− especially through economy-wide electrification. These materials bring energy efficiency benefits for electrical components and can remove heat quickly from devices. Applications include electric cars, trains, planes, smartphones, and heat pumps.
Cybersecurity is the practice of protecting assets from digital attacks. Increasing the sophistication of our manufacturing sector and bringing more smart manufacturing processes online opens the door for new cyber threats that could have severe consequences throughout manufacturing supply chains. As such, investing in the cybersecurity and resilience of manufacturing operations can help increase the safe adoption of systems that rely more heavily on automated and smart systems.
Education and workforce development for advanced manufacturing involves honing the skills, knowledge, and career pathways required to support a robust manufacturing sector. This includes upskilling an existing workforce to improve their earning potential and investing in a new generation of engineers and workers. Developing a diverse workforce is a high priority.
Energy storage technologies, such as batteries, enable energy to be available when and where it is needed. They allow intermittent sources of energy, such as renewables, to meet round-the-clock energy demands for industrial facilities, businesses, and consumers. Electric vehicles rely on batteries as a mobile source of power. Manufacturing energy storage technologies such as solid state lithium and flow batteries domestically will help strengthen domestic supply chains and facilitate the clean energy transition.
High performance computing is computing done on a much larger and more parallelized scale than common computing and is therefore limited to supercomputers and/or large computing clusters. High performance computing is mainly used to run highly complex modeling and simulation work. Complex computational studies can yield valuable insights and improve technology across scientific disciplines and industry. U.S. manufacturers, including small and medium-sized firms, have access to high-performance computing assets and expertise at national labs for modeling and optimizing new material and process technologies in clean energy applications. High performance computing can expedite the development of energy-efficient manufacturing processes across U.S. industry—saving energy, reducing emissions, boosting competitiveness, and building global technology leadership.
An innovation ecosystem is the evolving set of stakeholders, resources, and activities (and the relationship and connections between them) that drive technological advancement. The clean energy manufacturing innovation ecosystem convenes stakeholders across government, industry, academia, national labs, and communities to address key challenges in the development and adoption of emerging materials and manufacturing technologies. AMMTO views innovation ecosystems as an essential tool to grow entrepreneurship, accelerate the deployment of advanced materials and manufacturing technologies, strengthen the supply chain, expand manufacturing in key areas needed for economy-wide decarbonization, and develop a diverse regional and national workforce.
Harsh service conditions include any environment with high pressures, temperatures, proximity to corrosive chemicals, or other characteristics that puts a significant strain on material performance. Harsh service conditions are common at industrial facilities and in clean energy technology applications. Materials for harsh service conditions expand the operating envelopes of the technologies they are incorporated into and often deliver important efficiency and lifecycle benefits in their use. For example, high temperature-tolerant materials in wind turbines allow for more efficient operation.
Microelectronics are small electronic devices, such as transistors and semiconductor microchips, typically used as components in computing resources and information management technologies. As the global economy becomes more digitized, the electricity demand from microelectronics is set to increase. The global energy use of products featuring semiconductors, for example, has doubled every three years since 2010, primarily due to the accelerating use of semiconductors across the economy and the deceleration of energy efficiency increases.
Near Net Shape (NNS) manufacturing refers to a manufacturing process that aims to have the initial production of an object as close to its final, or net, shape as possible. NNS manufacturing reduces waste when compared to subtractive manufacturing processes. It also plays a critical role in the manufacturing of several clean energy technologies, including large metal components for wind turbines and water power.
Roll-to-roll manufacturing refers to the continuous processing of a flexible material as it passes through a roller-based production line. Photovoltaics, microelectronics, fuel cells, and other clean energy technologies can all be manufactured through a roll-to-roll process. This allows products to be manufactured continuously, rather than sheet-by-sheet, and tends to be much more energy and material efficient than traditional processes.
Smart manufacturing is the real-time collection and analysis of data to quickly improve efficiency and productivity in manufacturing processes. Smart manufacturing approaches often rely on sensors and controls capable of withstanding the harsh conditions found in many industrial processes. Industry can use smart manufacturing to refine industrial processes, optimize supply chains, and rapidly integrate design changes into production lines.