On April 11, the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation
(IACMI, Knoxville, Tenn., U.S.) announced that it is receiving a funding renewal from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). IACMI will be receiving federal funding across five fiscal years, with a first-year investment of $6 million to further technological R&D and accelerate commercialization in the domestic composites manufacturing sector.
The funding will be applied to the continued research and development of advanced composites technologies that support U.S. decarbonization and strengthen IACMI’S three strategic pillars: technology, economy and workforce development.
This funding builds upon initial institute funding of $70 million from the DOE and over $130 million from IACMI’s member partners. The announcement makes IACMI the first clean energy institute to be renewed by the DOE.
Since its start in 2015, IACMI has:
- Managed more than 60 collaborative and industry-led technical projects, representing more than $200 million in R&D investment
- Catalyzed more than 25 new composites-based products to commercialization
- Supported the creation of 3,000 jobs at composite materials and parts manufacturers
- Spurred investment of $75 million in five states for R&D and Scale Up Facilities
An example of a successful R&D effort is IACMI’s helping Volkswagen of America redesign and validate a liftgate for the VW Atlas with composites, reducing its weight by 35% and lowering its cost by 9% compared with steel. Another example is the scaling, manufacture and testing of novel thermoplastic wind turbine blades that are recyclable and lower in cost.
IACMI Working Groups aim to provide a robust model to engage in R&D for high rate aerostructures fabrication, digital twins, future mobility, wind energy, infrastructure and construction, and the circular economy through recycling and novel materials.
In addition, IACMI, state economic development organizations, and DOE have invested since 2015 in a shared infrastructure for open-access composites manufacturing R&D capabilities, led by IACMI’s core innovation partners in Colorado, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee.
Examples of shared scale-up facilities include:
- Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)
- Carbon Fiber Technology Facility at ORNL
- Fibers and Composites Manufacturing Facility at University of Tennessee, Knoxville
- Laboratory for Systems Integrity and Reliability at Vanderbilt University
- The Composites Laboratory at the University of Dayton Research Institute
- The Composites Manufacturing & Simulation Center at Purdue University
- The IACMI Scale-Up Research Facility (SuRF), managed by Michigan State University
- The Composites Manufacturing Education and Technology Facility (CoMET) at National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
IACMI is one of 16 national Manufacturing USA institutes established to catalyze advanced manufacturing and materials applications and the first to receive a second round of funding from the DOE. In this next chapter for the institute, IACMI aims to further its mission by attracting startups and small enterprises, as well as large enterprises, national labs and universities.
“Composites have the power to improve everyday lives,” says Chad Duty, CEO for IACMI. “Composite technology will continue to play a crucial role as we develop more sustainable solutions to our country’s energy, transportation and infrastructure challenges. DOE’s continued investment in IACMI will accelerate our progress toward achieving these goals.”
“IACMI is living, breathing proof that when we connect our nation’s leading experts across the manufacturing value chain to listen, learn, and share ideas and best practices, we can have a big impact,” says DOE’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Alejandro Moreno. “The Department is committed to seeing how IACMI will continue to leverage that collaborative spirit into actionable and innovative progress as our partnership continues.”