Develop advanced manufacturing processes and technologies that enable low-carbon solutions for high-volume, high-value chemicals and materials to reach the marketplace more rapidly.
The manufacturing sector is rapidly changing . Inexpensive, abundant, low-carbon feedstocks and energy carriers, including renewable electricity, hydrogen, and biomass are enabling novel processes and materials that have not been attractive in the existing fossil-fuel-dominated energy paradigm. The increasing focus on circular supply chains also opens the potential for innovative product design that facilitates recyclability and the development of highly reconvertable or biodegradable materials instead of single-use consumption that requires energy-intensive, complicated recycling routes. However, the time from concept to commercialization must be cut dramatically . There is a disconnect between new material discovery and the traditional, empirically based and laborious Edisonian design, test, and validation routes for manufacturing optimization.
Advanced manufacturing is a growing field, with ample opportunities for rapid realization of technologies through combined computational and experimental investigations that run through the design-build-test-learn framework. This is especially true for next-generation manufacturing processes that increasingly must focus on zero or negative carbon emissions. These processes include use of novel and green power vectors such as renewable electrons, understanding methods and ways to enhance decarbonization of thermal vectors and use, and an awareness of overall lifetime and circularity of both the end product and the manufacturing pathway. Advances in computational power and algorithms enable these new manufacturing methodologies through advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence, which also opens opportunities for cross disciplinary or hybrid approaches to designing manufacturing. An example includes reactive capture of carbon dioxide (CO2 ) (i.e., combined capture and conversion) that may rely on different electrochemical, biological, thermal, or plasmonic steps in the synthesis of chemicals, thereby providing truly optimized reaction pathways. Furthermore, the conceptualization of different manufacturing pathways, combined with critical experiments and computation, enable a targeted experimental test and validation regime that enables green chemical routes to be realized in record time.
For more details on this initiative, take a look at ETA's 2021 Strategic Plan.
Short Term (six months - two years)
- Execute a demonstration of bench-scale, novel, low-carbon processes for chemical and material production offering the potential for integration with renewable energy sources.
- Develop techno-economic and life-cycle analysis framework and modeling capabilities for evaluating novel synthesis methods and recovery of key materials for manufacturing.
- Integrate efforts with U.S. Department of Energy advanced manufacturing and plastic waste reduction efforts.
Medium Term (three - five years)
- Develop and analyze larger-scale technology processes.
- Develop a portfolio of projects dedicated toward electrochemical refining, hydrogen combustion, new material and thermal fluid development, and circular manufacturing strategies.
Long Term (five years and beyond)
- Shorten by tenfold the design-build-test-learn cycle for key materials in manufacturing.
- Commercialize Berkeley Lab technology prototypes.
- Conduct an integrated research program combining automated platforms for novel chemical/ material synthesis, testing, and systems analysis.
- Establish Berkeley Lab as a leader in the development of carbon-efficient, circular manufacturing strategies.