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Interview: DOE's Mark Johnson at Official Launch of RAPID Manufacturing Institute

On December 9, 2016, the Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) announced that the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) will lead the tenth Manufacturing USA Institute, the Rapid Advancement in Process Intensification Deployment (RAPID) Manufacturing Institute, and on March 27, 2017, the RAPID Institute officially opened its’ doors for business.

Upon delivering the keynote speech at the AIChE Spring Meeting and Global Congress on Process Safety in San Antonio, Texas, AMO Director Mark Johnson sat down with RAPID CEO Karen Fletcher to discuss the official launch of RAPID and the positive economic impact that manufacturing institutes have on the U.S. economy.

According to Mark Johnson, the Advanced Manufacturing Office seeks to identify the “interception between manufacturing and energy, where we [AMO] can develop new technologies; support research and development; and really work together with industry to lower those barriers for getting technologies out to the marketplace for U.S. manufacturers.” In doing so, this would create a “triple bottom line” effect that will ultimately improve the U.S. economy, energy efficiency, and energy productivity and thus will lead to higher national energy security and more job creation. 

When Karen asked what the key to success is for Manufacturing USA Institutes, Mark unhesitatingly responded, “partnerships, partnerships, partnerships.” In addition to supporting the early-stage applied research and development within the institutes to improve technologies, the network of public-private partnerships within each institute is the primary key to success. “Great ideas are good,” said Mark Johnson, “but how we end up actually empowering people to act upon those is a key element.”

To date, RAPID has enlisted 75 companies, 34 academic institutions, 7 national laboratories, 2 other government laboratories, and 7 non-governmental organizations from all regions of the United States to focus on developing breakthrough technologies to boost domestic energy productivity and energy efficiency by 20 percent in five years through manufacturing processes in industries such oil and gas, pulp and paper and various domestic chemical manufacturers. Learn more about the launch of RAPID in the official press release.