Iowa State engineers will contribute to new Manufacturing USA institute

AMES, Iowa – Iowa State engineers are part of a new, $140 million national manufacturing institute dedicated to reusing materials in ways that can improve the energy efficiency of American manufacturing by up to 50 percent.

The U.S. Department of Energy announced the new institute – the Reducing Embodied-energy and Decreasing Emissions, or REMADE Institute – early this year. The institute will be supported by up to $70 million in federal funding, subject to appropriations, and $70 million in cost-shares from more than 100 partners.

REMADE will be led by the Sustainable Manufacturing Innovation Alliance based at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York, according the Energy Department’s announcement. REMADE will focus on lowering the cost of technologies that manufacturers need to reuse, recycle and remanufacture metals, fibers, polymers, electronic wastes and other materials.

The energy department estimates that could save billions in energy costs.

Gül Kremer, the C.G. “Turk” & Joyce A. Therkildsen Department Chair in Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering, along with Arun Somani, the College of Engineering’s associate dean for research, developed the successful partnership with the Rochester Institute of Technology for REMADE. Kremer said including Iowa State as a partner in the new institute says a lot about university researchers.

“This shows our credibility, commitment and engagement with manufacturers in the state,” she said. “The deliverable here is more than scientific papers – it’s also knowledge transferred to companies. And so this effort upholds the ideal of a land-grant university sharing its discoveries.”

Kremer said the goal of Iowa State research affiliated with the REMADE Institute will be to work directly with Iowa companies to improve their ability to reuse materials and save energy. And, because researchers are working with companies, she said the lag time between laboratory discoveries and manufacturing practices will be much shorter.

Somani said it’s too early to know exactly what Iowa State researchers will study as partners to the REMADE Institute. But he expects the projects will involve materials recycling and manufacturing processes.

The Energy Department’s announcement said U.S. manufacturing accounts for nearly 25 percent of the country’s annual energy use. Technologies that reduce the energy needed to produce materials for manufacturing could save up to 1.6 quadrillion British thermal units annually – more than the electricity, oil and other energy consumed by Delaware, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, D.C. combined.

Kremer said the advanced manufacturing and operations research faculty within the department of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering are well positioned to research and develop those energy-saving technologies.

“We are the right people,” she said. “Our partnership in REMADE will allow for collaboration across the College of Engineering and that could grow across the university. Our manufacturing group is strong and this research can be an engine to take us to higher levels.”

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory is also a partner in the REMADE Institute.

Manufacturing USA – also known as the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation – was established in 2012 and now includes 14 research institutes. Each institute has a specific technology focus with the general goal of bringing together academic, industrial and federal partners to increase the competitiveness of American manufacturing.