August 30, 2021

Department of Energy Invests $42 million in the Future of Manufacturing

Climate change has been part of the conversation around the future of manufacturing for years, but recent reports from the World Economic Forum and the The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have really driven home that manufacturers will play a key role in any and all climate change mitigation strategies. 

While these organizations mean well and are sincerely interested in solving the problems of climate change, the gap between them and the on-the-ground manufacturers that will actually be responsible for testing these ideas can make their plans and position papers feel less like the start of cooperative efforts around the and more like commands from on-high to “just figure it out.”

Closer to home, the United States Department of Energy has similar goals to the WEF and IPCC but has gone for a more grassroots approach. Cutting down on carbon emissions is a key focus for the department, and advancing manufacturing technology and techniques will go a long way toward reaching that goal. So rather than simply set goals and then hope someone else achieves them, they’ve begun working closely with both manufacturers and academics on an approach that will bring the best of both worlds to bear on this global-scale problem.

To kick things off, the department held Future of Manufacturing Week at the end of July, led by its Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO), focused on forming new partnerships and finding new solutions to help fight climate change. 

One key outcome that manufacturers, particularly tool and die makers, should be aware of is $42.3 million in funding allocated for innovations in both technology and processes that increase energy efficiency in manufacturing. The announcement has additional details and can be found here. 

The application itself goes into more detail on what types of projects the department is looking for. Unlike many other federal grants, for-profit businesses can apply, though this could also be a great chance to work with a local college or university demonstrating the practical application of research they’ve done. If you are interested in applying, do be aware that the preliminary paper is due Sept. 10, 2021. 

We’ll be keeping an eye on further work by AMO and looking for more ways to help ensure manufacturers have a seat at the table on important issues like climate change, employment policies, and numerous other initiatives that affect the future of manufacturing.