THE American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) has been selected by the US government to lead a new US$140m national manufacturing institute set up to advance process intensification.
The Rapid Advancement in Process Intensification Deployment (RAPID) Institute will focus on developing breakthrough technologies to boost energy productivity by 20% in five years. Institute partners – which include more than 130 organisations from industry and academia – are looking to combine multiple complex processes such as mixing and separations into single modular units with the goal of improving energy efficiency, cutting operating costs and reducing waste.
The US Department of Energy (DOE), which has pledged US$70m to match private investments in RAPID, says such technologies could save the chemicals industry alone more than US$9bn a year in process costs.
“Our investment in this cross-cutting technology is an investment in the future of US manufacturing,” said David Friedman, acting assistant secretary of the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “As we expand the Manufacturing USA network, we provide greater opportunities for businesses of all sizes to solve their toughest technology challenges and unleash major savings in energy-intensive sectors like oil and gas, pulp and paper-making and other industries.”
RAPID chief executive officer Karen Fletcher said: “The RAPID team is thrilled and energised by DOE’s decision…We are confident we can meet DOE’s goals of reduced energy usage and feedstock waste, and improved productivity, through our focus on integrating unit processes into single modular hardware elements that are cost effective, with high efficiency and scalability.”
The centre is the tenth Manufacturing USA Institute created by the government to accelerate advanced manufacturing. The focus of the others includes additive manufacturing, advanced functional fabrics and integrated photonics.
T Bond Calloway, AIChE’s president-elect and the associate laboratory director for clean energy at Savannah River National Laboratory, said: “I am very proud to be part of the RAPID effort, in which chemical engineers are making such an important contribution to advancing American manufacturing.”
AIChE developed the RAPID Institute proposal in collaboration with the Savannah River National Laboratory and the Georgia Institute of Technology. To date, RAPID’s partners include 75 companies, 34 academic institutions, 7 national laboratories, 2 other government laboratories, and 7 non-governmental organisations. They have pledged to contribute US$70m over five years. Industry partners include Dow, DuPont, ExxonMobil Chemicals, Fluor, and Shell.
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