Energy Materials Network – Sparking a Revolution in Materials Development for Clean Energy Technologies

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The U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Materials Network will accelerate materials development, from the early discovery stages all the way through to commercial deployment, and advance the goals of the Administration’s Materials Genome Initiative and Advanced Manufacturing Partnership.

Affordable, reliable, high performance materials are key enablers for countless transformational technology advancements, including clean energy applications. However, many materials discoveries made in the laboratory today never reach widespread market deployment or spend decades in costly development cycles. As a result, advanced materials’ traditional 15-20 years-to-market timeframe isn’t keeping pace with America’s goals to reduce its carbon footprints and achieve a clean energy economy.

In 2011, President Obama established the Materials Genome Initiative to discover, develop, and deploy cutting-edge materials at least twice as fast and at a fraction of the cost as possible today. And in 2014, the President’s Advanced Manufacturing Partnership 2.0, a public-private partnership to invest in the emerging technologies that will create high quality manufacturing jobs and enhance our global competitiveness, recognized the importance of enabling advanced materials for technologies critical to U.S. manufacturing competitiveness.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has stepped up concrete efforts to address these priorities. Most recently, at a White House event today, leaders from the Office of Science and Technology Policy and DOE launched the Energy Materials Network (EMN), a resource network of consortia led by the national labs that aims to solve U.S. manufacturing’s toughest clean energy materials challenges. The EMN consortia have world-class capabilities in materials design, synthesis, characterization, high-throughput research, advanced computational tools, and manufacturing scale-up that they will leverage to accelerate materials innovations, such as catalysts that are free of precious metal catalysts and efficient cooling systems with lower global warming potential.

Each consortium will focus on a specific materials domain relevant to clean energy manufacturing, including lightweight materials, next generation catalysts, energy conversion materials, and coatings and packaging. Through its Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative, $40 million in funding is being provided in fiscal year 2016 by DOE to launch the first four EMN consortia, inclusive of funds for competitively awarded and collaborative research and development (R&D) projects to work with lab consortia. In fiscal year 2017, an additional $121.8 million is requested add three new consortia to the network in the area lightweight materials and advanced catalysts.

By providing U.S. industry a clear point of engagement and streamlined access to the national labs’ capabilities, data, and tools in advanced materials R&D, EMN is helping ensure that DOE-funded research with stakeholder partners is accelerating the materials-to-market process and enhancing U.S. advanced materials manufacturing competitiveness in support of the Administration’s clean energy goals.