Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

Knoxville Business News Tennessee Mountain Scenery Background
June 12, 2012 | Tom Ballard

FLASH: DOE awards $9 million to Dow-Ford-ORNL carbon fiber partnership

Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s (ORNL) work in low-cost carbon fiber research got a major boost Tuesday when the U. S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced an award of $9 million to the Dow Chemical Company that is working with Ford Motor Company and ORNL.

The project scope reads as follows: “This project will develop a lower cost carbon fiber production process that uses polyolefin in place of conventional polyacrylonitrile as the feedstock. Low-cost carbon fiber has widespread application in automobiles, wind turbines, and various other industrial applications. Potentially this novel process could reduce production costs by 20% and total carbon dioxide emissions by 50%.”

The project is part of a $71 million announcement. Here’s the official DOE release with links to all of the funded projects.

WASHINGTON – As part of the Obama Administration’s blueprint for an American economy built to last, the Energy Department today announced new investments that support American leadership and global competiveness in manufacturing. The Energy Department awarded more than $54 million – leveraging approximately an additional $17 million in cost share from the private sector – for 13 projects across the country to advance transformational technologies and materials that can help American manufacturers dramatically increase the energy efficiency of their operations and reduce costs. These projects will develop cutting-edge manufacturing tools, techniques, and processes that will be able to save companies money by reducing the energy needed to power their facilities. These projects are a part of the Administration’s strategy for investing in emerging technologies that create high-quality domestic manufacturing jobs and enhance the competitiveness of U.S. companies in today’s global markets.

“By investing in breakthrough technologies that can drastically reduce the amount of energy consumed during manufacturing, the Energy Department is supporting President Obama’s blueprint for an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, and skills for American workers,” said U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “When it comes to clean energy, our motto should be: ‘Invented in America, made in America, and sold around the world.’ The projects announced today will improve the competitive position of U.S. industry and help manufacturers produce more while saving energy, saving money and protecting our air and water.”

As President Obama made clear in his State of the Union address, an economy built to last depends largely on American manufacturing and American energy.  With sustained job growth for the first time since the 1990’s and the addition of nearly 500,000 jobs over a little more than two years, the American manufacturing sector has begun to rebound. At the same time, the U.S. reclaimed the position as the world’s leading investor in clean energy and has nearly doubled clean, renewable energy use in the country over the past few years. To continue this progress, President Obama has called on Congress to extend the clean energy manufacturing tax credits that have helped create jobs and maintain America’s competitive edge in this multi-trillion dollar global industry.

Today’s awards build on that foundation. Manufacturing is so central to the American economy that industrial processes consume about one-third of all energy produced in the United States, representing a huge opportunity to boost American competitiveness through advances in energy-saving technologies.

From improving manufacturing processes that reduce the energy needed to make components for aircraft and vehicles, to lowering the production costs of carbon fiber for a wide range of clean energy products, these projects represent a major investment in the solutions that will transform energy-intensive manufacturing technologies and materials used by industry here in the U.S. The results of these projects could produce large improvements in energy productivity, reduce pollution, and boost product output, while creating jobs and helping American companies expand export opportunities globally.

Each project will advance technologies early enough in their development cycles to permit the full scope of their technical benefits to be shared across a broad cross-section of the domestic economy. Collectively, these projects are part of the Obama Administration’s effort to support the creation of good jobs by helping U.S. manufacturers reduce costs, improve quality, and accelerate product development. By strengthening the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing, these projects will help lay a foundation for an American economy built to last.

The projects selected for awards include:

  • Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. – Allentown, PA – $1,200,000
  • American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) – Salt Lake City, UT – $7,120,000
  • Delphi Automotive Systems, LLC – Rochester, NY – $3,700,000
  • General Motors LLC – Warren, MI – $2,672,124
  • Lyondell Chemical Company – Newtown Square, PA – $4,500,000
  • MEMC Electronic Materials, Inc. – St. Peters, MO – $3,680,000
  • MIT – Cambridge, MA – $1,000,000
  • PolyPlus Battery Company – Berkeley, CA – $8,999,920
  • Research Triangle Institute – Research Triangle Park, NC – $4,800,000
  • Teledyne Scientific and Imaging – Thousand Oaks, CA – $2,110,000
  • The Dow Chemical Company – Midland, MI – $9,000,000
  • The University of Utah – Salt Lake City, Utah – $1,460,285
  • Third Wave Systems, Inc. – Minneapolis, MN – $4,069,882

A full list of project descriptions, including project partners, can be found at


Don’t Miss Out on the Southeast’s Latest Entrepreneurial, Business, & Tech News!

Sign-up to get the Teknovation Newsletter in your inbox each morning!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

No, thanks!