DOE Puts $45 Million Toward Additive Manufacturing Innovation
On the same day as the Biden-Harris administration’s launch of the American Climate Corps, a modern environmental reimagining of the New Deal-era Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), the US Department of Energy announced a similarly green initiative. The DOE has outlined two sets of wind and water energy projects across the United States to jointly receive $45 million to focus research on large-scale domestic equipment manufacture and American clean energy supply chains. The growing focus on domestic sustainable energy has been pushing research towards additive manufacturing solutions, where the DOE’s Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Technologies Office (AMMTO) divided the $45m budget toward the research and manufacture of 3D printed hydropower technology, and the sustainable manufacture of wind turbine equipment through 3D printing.
The first of the projects to be granted this funding is being conducted by GE Research. Focusing on hydropower and additive manufacturing, the project consists of creating a suite of tools aimed at increasing efficiency and reducing waste with various additions to the suite such as robotic welding methods and a digital foundry. The project has been estimated to help reduce the production costs of hydropower machines by 20% and reduce their construction time by four months. The ongoing research hopes to support the metal 3D printing of large pieces that can all be made domestically.
The second set of projects focuses on wind power, which fits in line with the administration’s energy goal of producing 30 GW of offshore wind energy by 2030. Split up between several universities, professional companies and national laboratories, the thirteen different participating projects are focused on one of the three areas of interest: The integration of additive manufacturing into the construction of large wind blades, the streamlining of AM practices for critical wind turbine components and the research and development towards the digitization, sustainability and modularization of wind blades and turbine components.
The push for more research and domestic production methods comes in anticipation of an increase in demand. It is forecasted that the demand for wind and water turbine pieces will quintuple in the next ten years as the US continues to pursue its goals of clean energy production and energy independence by building up its domestic supply chain network. As these research projects show, 3D printing stands out as one of the key factors that will enable the US to move forward with its plans for sustainability while addressing efficiency and accessibility in the energy sector. You can learn more about the DOE’s funding on their government site, HERE.
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*Cover Photo Credits: James St. John via Flickr, CC-BY-2.0