Offices: Advanced Materials & Manufacturing Technologies Office (AMMTO) and Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO)
FOA Number: DE-FOA-0003023
Funding Awarded: $29.9 Million

As of February 2024, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Technologies Office (AMMTO) announced $29.9 million for two selected projects to develop and commercialize novel manufacturing processes and methods capable of producing large metallic manufacturing components for renewable power systems. The first project received $14.9 million in federal funding from AMMTO in September 2023 and has the potential to help reduce overall hydropower costs by 20% and lead times by four months.

The second project received a total of $15 million in federal funding: $13 million from AMMTO and $2 million from Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) in February 2024. 

Wind and water power both rely on large (10+ ton) metallic components, which can be produced through conventional manufacturing processes such as casting and forging. The domestic manufacturing base is currently unable to competitively produce these large components using conventional methods alone. The inability to domestically produce these components has resulted in increased production costs, longer lead times, reliance on foreign supply chains, and, ultimately, an inhibited ability to manufacture large and complex systems. This incapacity affects a large cross-section of the manufacturing sector including clean electricity generation, transportation, industrial machinery, tooling, durable goods, and domestic infrastructure. 

These two projects directly support the innovation required to boost the domestic production of large metallic manufacturing components, a critical step on the path towards deploying America’s clean power generation technology. 

Project Title: Development of Advanced Casting Cell and Digital Foundry to Enable Cost Effective Domestic Manufacturing of Large Clean Energy Castings

Institution: GE Research

Project Partners: GE Hydro, GE Onshore Wind, GE Offshore Wind, Voxeljet, Clemson University, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and Hodge Foundry

Location: Niskayuna, New York

Federal Funding: $14.9 Million

Description: GE Research will develop, build, and refine the advanced casting cell (ACC), a sand binder jet 3D printer for printing large sand-casting molds. The project objectives include: 

  • The digital creation of mold designs via a digital foundry (an end-to-end suite of tools that include process monitoring and topology optimization through multi-faceted models).
  • The completion of a techno-economic analysis that will study the true costs and supply chain challenges that need to be overcome for full-scale implementation of these systems. 
  • The casting of a 16-ton rotor hub using ACC molds. 
  • The development of a robotic welding process for the assembly of a  more than 10-ton hydropower Francis runner (including turbine blades, plates, and rotating shaft pieces).
  • A corresponding workforce development component that will create a curriculum for worker training and involvement. 
     

Project Title: Net Shape Multi-Agent Robotic Hybrid Additive Manufacturing for Large-Scale Metal

Institution: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Project Partners: Tennessee Valley Authority

Location: Oak Ridge, Tennessee

Federal Funding: $15 Million ($13 Million from AMMTO; $2 Million from WPTO)

Description: Oak Ridge National Laboratory plans to develop a net shape multi-agent robotic hybrid additive manufacturing (AM) process for large-scale metallic structures.  The project objectives include: 

  • Fabricating full-scale Francis hydropower runners, the largest of which will be 4.7 meters in diameter and 42,000 kilograms.
  • Halving the existing lead time of this manufacturing process to enable more efficient domestic hydropower production. 
  • Achieving 100% domestic production of a hydropower turbine runner in the United States. 
  • Enabling the efficient production of complex near net shape metallic manufacturing components, specifically for hydropower technology. 
  • Combining robotic welding-based directed energy deposition (DED) processes with conventional machine tools in a hybrid process.

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