U.S. Department of Energy Public-Private Partnerships: A Model for Success
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Dr. David Danielson:
At the core, the real opportunity is for the DOE, through Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative, to work with our partners to envision what might be possible, but what others think is impossible. One huge opportunity we have is to unleash the potential of our national laboratory system to help industrial companies all across the country be more competitive, to develop their next gen technologies, to be first to market with better, more efficient products.
As the founding challenge we have this tremendous scientific resource in our national laboratory system. How do we break down the barriers so manufacturers can use those facilities more effectively and come together and build partnerships that are technology partnerships to solve problems that manufacturers have, leveraging that scientific infrastructure? That's the framework by which the MDF was set up.
The Manufacturing Demonstration Facility is a public-private partnership with industry. It's really a portal. Companies can see advanced manufacturing technologies that we can work on together.
The cool location of design, manufacturing, and research and development really allows us to move very quickly. And that's exactly what commercial entities need.
We really started being able to pull the experts from our different disciplines. They're all coming together to work on a specific problem. And for industry, they want to find out what's the overall solution.
We can help them overcome a technical problem very quickly and allow them to move out into the marketplace.
The nice thing about the system that we are developing here is we can actually take a little ice cream scoop sized piece out of the top of the cylinder CAD and then replace it with Inconel, higher quality material than the original casting. We're making it stronger, we're decreasing its thermal conductivity, and we've turned that into an increased efficiency for our recon engines. We're striving to make them better than new.
Needed to have a lot of training. The idea was to have it at Oak Ridge National Lab because they had a huge diversity of equipment. We could have the designers touch several different types of equipment at the same place. We worked with the subject matter experts at the lab as well as subject matter experts within Boeing to develop the curriculum and then start training our workforce.
We are using this location heavily for research. Most of the battery materials are roll to roll manufacture. Experts are helping us to shape our ideas, design experiments, and move on
The MDF is where we got our start with the Strati, which is the world's first 3D printed vehicle. So that work now continues with the MDF. So not just the original proof of concept with the Strati, but also ongoing materials are in research and development. We are fortunate to be hosted here for a number of months and be exposed to as many companies that is coming through.
Often, we end up sharing some resources and helping one another and even do some match making. It's been exciting to see that they're not just catering to the big companies, but also the small guy who's got that single idea and wants to move it up and commercialize it.
My favorite part is that every day I have a new problem. This company has this challenge, "How can I go through and solve this?" "How do I come up with new renewable energy scenarios that I wouldn't have been able to afford before?" When you start to see those changes, those trends get you very excited about what's going on.
Jewels in the United States like the National Laboratory System are really important for industry to utilize in bringing the United States to the forefront on clean energy manufacturing technologies.
Dr. David Danielson:
One thing that is important to realize is that we are not going to win every part of the clean energy race. There are going to be places where we have competitive advantages, and there are going to be places where we just don't. And so, together, we need to work to make sure that we're targeting those opportunities where the US can take the lead and win based on our competitive advantage and strengthening that. And change what's possible, I think is the essence of what can be done through the clean energy manufacturing initiative and amazing new public private partnerships we can launch.