Archive for June 2011
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You are browsing the archives of 2011 June.
President Obama announced the launch of a Materials Genome Initiative during his speech at Carnegie Mellon University last week when he also announced the launch of the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership. (Read our report on the AMP announcement). The goal of the MGI, he said, is to “to help business develop, discover and deploy new materials twice as fast…”
Stating the obvious — This is great news for the materials science and engineering community.
The president did not say much more about the MGI than the above quote, but the White House released a white paper the same day, “Materials Genome Initiative for Global Competitiveness (pdf),” written by an ad hoc committee of the National Science and Technology Council (a Cabinet-level cross-agency entity). In the press release announcing the MGI white paper, the White House says “current “time-to-market” from discovery to deployment for new classes of materials is far too slow, given the range of urgent problems that advanced materials can help us solve.”
The white paper presents a vision for “how the development of advanced materials can be accelerated through advances in computational techniques, more effective use of standards, and enhanced data management.” Envisioned is a comprehensive collaboration among stakeholders, from theorists to R&D labs to manufacturers that will encompass academia, small and large businesses, professional societies and government.
In broad strokes, the paper addresses key issues like materials deployment and acceleration of the materials continuum by developing a materials innovation infrastructure, achieving national goals with advanced materials and preparing the next-generation workforce. A six-point action plan outlines activities that will be coordinated by DOD, DOE, NSF and NIST. The president has written $100M into his FY12 budget to launch the MGI (but it is not clear whether this is included in the $500 million AMP funding request for FY12).
Computational tools are expected to be used extensively to get around the time-consuming and repetitive experimentation that is inevitable but necessary to the development and testing of new materials. The authors of the white paper observe that researchers need to have access to large data sets for accurate simulation and modeling, and that there is no standardized mechanism for sharing algorithms, models or data at present.
Getting good data to feed into models is easy to say, hard to do.
In the March 2011 issue of the Bulletin, the article “A perspective on materials databases,” addresses the issue of data, noting the importance of easy access to reliable materials property data, but large volumes of data are hidden in widely dispersed or unavailable databases. The provenance of available data is often unknown, so the quality of conclusions drawn from such data is also unknown. Old data with well-known provenance still can prove to be insufficiently well-known. The example of 96 percent alumina is given. The composition of the remaining 4 percent can matter enormously, but is not always known. Often processing and preparation information that can affect properties is missing.
The NSF is working to resolve this dilemma by requiring its investigators to include a plan for data sharing in their proposals. The article’s authors admit that the cost of developing and maintaining a comprehensive data system is a formidable obstacle, one which the MGI should help mitigate.
There are plenty of examples of computational tools being used already for materials engineering. In the May 2010 issue of the Bulletin, the article “Atomic-scale computational modeling of cement and concrete,” describes the application of ab-initio and molecular dynamics methods to the engineering of the concrete and cement, materials that nearly everyone worldwide knows. Nanoscale engineering of skyscrapers!
The Chicago-based company, QuesTek - with the tagline “Materials by Design” - is an alloy development company that uses computational methods to expedite alloy development including the commercially available Ferrium line of alloys, one which is under consideration for a use as a helicopter gear by Bell Helicopter. QuesTek’s computational know-how is based on the industry-funded research of its founder, Greg Olson, professor at Northwestern University.
Not surprisingly, QuesTek has come out in strong support of the MGI.
The Ceramic Leadership Summit is about business - and the unique aspects of doing business in the ceramics industry.
ACerS president, Marina Pascucci says, “It’s not a conference of technical papers. Instead, every speaker is presenting information that can change the way you and I do business at our own organization.”
Every session is focused on a business opportunity, emerging technology, or critical business issue that the ceramics and glass industry faces on a global scale.
“The Ceramic Leadership Summit was created with a great deal of input from the ceramic business community. Sessions focus largely on issues of strategic importance to ceramic business leaders and provide significant opportunity for interaction,” notes Charlie Spahr, executive director.
If your “ceramics vocabulary” tends toward phrases like supply chains, raw material sourcing, partnership, international markets, manufacturing in China, venture capital, creating new markets, overcoming barriers to new technologies, business valuation, regulations and economics, CLS is your meeting.
The first day of the meeting is all general session - no deciding which track to attend. The second day the presentations are organized into three tracks: Energy Innovations, Business of Ceramics and Innovative Applications for Ceramic Materials. Networking events are sprinkled throughout the meeting.
Of the participants pre-registered for this year’s meeting, 75 percent are from industry, 15 percent are from universities and 10 percent are from government labs and agencies.
Read more here about George Wicks, R&D 100 Award winner and CLS presenter.
We look forward to seeing you there.
Ceramic Leadership Summit 2011
August 1-3, Baltimore, Maryland
Last week President Obama unveiled a new initiative to invest in emerging technologies and create new manufacturing jobs and increase the nation’s global competitiveness. During a visit to Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pa., Obama introduced the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, which, according to the White House press release, will invest more than $500 million to leverage existing programs and proposals to meet these goals.
The press release said that AMP’s initial investments will target manufacturing for critical national security industries, advanced materials development, robotics, improving energy efficiency of manufacturing processes and accelerating the product development timeline for manufactured goods.
“Today, I’m calling for all of us to come together- private sector industry, universities, and the government- to spark a renaissance in American manufacturing and help our manufacturers develop the cutting-edge tools they need to compete with anyone in the world,” said Obama in the press release. “With these key investments, we can ensure that the United States remains a nation that ‘invents it here and manufactures it here’ and creates high-quality, good paying jobs for American workers.”
AMP is a response to the first of four recommendations made by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology in their just-released report, “Ensuring Leadership in Advanced Manufacturing (pdf).” The report cites an erosion of domestic leadership in manufacturing and the heavy investment of other nations to fill that void, the advantages of having R&D and manufacturing located in the United States, the essential role of an advanced manufacturing competence in national security and that, historically, federal investment in new technologies has cleared the way for fledglings to become major new industries.
The PCAST report concludes that individual companies cannot go it alone: “Private investment must be complemented by public investment to overcome market failures. Key opportunities include investing in the advancement of new technologies with transformative potential, supporting shared infrastructure, and accelerating the manufacturing process through targeted support for new methods and approaches.”
To create an environment conducive to innovation and to overcome market failures, the PCAST report recommended a four-point plan:
AMP is the administration’s response to the first of these, and as recommended by PCAST, is a government, industry and academic partnership. It will be led by Andrew Liveris, CEO of Dow Chemical and Susan Hockfield, president of MIT, and will work closely with the White House’s National Economic Council, Office of Science and Technology Policy, as well as with PCAST.
The first team has been picked already. From industry it will be Allegheny Technologies, Caterpillar, Corning, Dow Chemical, Ford, Honeywell, Intel, Johnson & Johnson, Northrop Grumman, Proctor & Gamble and Stryker. Participating universities are MIT, Carnegie Mellon, Georgia Tech, Stanford, UC-Berkeley and University of Michigan. Government players are DARPA, DOE, DOD, and the Commerce Department.
The White House press release gives examples of how several partnerships that are in place will modify their programs to support AMP goals. Several of the named agencies have a long history as important, strategic investors in materials science and engineering such as NSF, NASA and NIST. For example, NIST, a Commerce Department agency, issued a press release outlining its programs that will support the AMP initiative including robotics, nanomanufacturing, advanced materials design through the Materials Genome Initiative and an advanced manufacturing technology consortium scheduled for launch in FY2010.
The PCAST report recommended that AMP funding should rise from $500 million to $1 billion over the course of four years. While touring Carnegie Mellon and seeing demonstrations of several cutting-edge technologies developed at the university, Obama said that it was important for ideas to have a place to incubate and become products that can be made in the US and sold worldwide. “And that’s in our blood. That’s who we are. We are inventors, and we are makers, and we are doers.”
Received from the DOE:
ARPA-E Director Arun Majumdar to Host Live Chat on Innovation and Clean Energy
On Wednesday, June 29, ARPA-E Director Arun Majumdar will host the Department of Energy’s second “Energy Matters” live chat. Majumdar will discuss the investments being made in innovative research and technology today that will move us off of foreign oil and toward the clean energy infrastructure of the future.
Questions can be submitted in advance or during the live chat through email, Twitter and Facebook.
To learn more about the event, visit the Energy Blog.
Here is what we are hearing:
The company’s new Malaysia facility recently completed qualification of its six-inch wafers by a key customer, and also successfully completed an ISO certification audit. Both of these milestones enable the Malaysia facility to move into volume production of six-inch polished wafers, which are in high demand as LED chip manufacturers continue to migrate to larger diameter substrates to realize greater efficiencies. The facility also is capable of processing and polishing eight-inch wafers that Rubicon provides to customers in R&D volumes.
Aspen Aerogels Inc., an energy efficiency company that designs, develops and manufactures innovative, high-performance aerogel insulation, announced today that it has filed a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission for a proposed initial public offering of its common stock. Goldman, Sachs Co. and Morgan Stanley Co. LLC will act as joint book-running managers for the offering. The number of shares to be sold in the proposed offering and the price range of the proposed offering have not yet been determined.
Kyocera Solar Inc. announced that MyGen US-made kits — domestically produced, all-inclusive kits for residential and light commercial solar energy installations — are available now. The MyGen solar energy kits are ideal for new entrants into the solar market and professionals in the electrical contractor industry interested in expanding into solar energy installations.
Schott North America announced it will be the first company to supply all the required Electrical Penetration Assemblies, sealed with glass and metal, for a prototype nuclear reactor being built in China. The reactor is scheduled to go into operation in China in about four years time. These are currently the only EPAs in the world to be used in such advanced nuclear reactors.