LeMond Composites announces carbon fiber plant opening in Oak Ridge, brings 242 jobs

The old Theragenics facility in Oak Ridge will soon be getting a facelift thanks to a $125 million investment by LeMond Composites. This announcement is not only opening the door for East Tennesseans by offering 242 high-paying jobs but also for the state’s economy.

lemond-cycles-2017-carbon-fiber-bicycles-comingLeMond Composites is part of LeMond Companies, a group led by three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond.

Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd alongside company officials announced LeMond Composites will begin making a new industry-disrupting carbon fiber for the transportation, renewable energy and infrastructure markets.

Carbon fiber is a strong, lightweight material used for advanced composites in a variety of applications including making both bikes and vehicles more efficient by making them weigh less.

LeMond Composites “Grail” carbon fiber is low-cost and high-quality and its changing the industry because not only is it more affordable but the way it’s produced uses substantially less energy compared to other carbon fiber manufacturing processes.

With the invention of “Grail” carbon fiber, Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards of 54.5 mpg by 2025 are now achievable.

Photo Credit: Composites Manufacturing Magazine

Photo Credit: Composites Manufacturing Magazine

The former professional road racing cyclist says he was exposed to his first carbon fiber bike 30 years ago. Just as weight in a car requires more energy consumption, riding like LeMond did requires more energy if the bicycle is heavier.

Today, LeMond Composites has executed a license with ORNL for what the company describes as “one of the most significant developments in carbon fiber production in over 50 years.”

A breakthrough process invented by Connie Jackson, Co-CEO of LeMond Composites and a research team at ORNL’s Carbon Fiber Technology Facility (CFTF) will reduce production costs by more than 50% relative to the lowest cost industrial grade carbon fiber. Incredibly this new carbon fiber has the mechanical properties of carbon fiber costing three times as much. Until now, manufacturing carbon fiber was an extremely energy-intensive process. This new method reduces energy consumed during production by up to 60%.

LeMond plans to break ground on the new facility in January and the first commercially available product will be ready in the first quarter of 2018.

Waste-to-energy plant brings sustainable power to Lebanon

PHG Energy has partnered with the City of Lebanon for a new waste-to-energy gasification plant commissioned Thursday in Lebanon, Tennessee.

The plant utilizes patented downdraft gasification technology that has been thoroughly vetted in commercial and municipal deployments.

System highlights include:

  • generating 1,800,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity
  • converting 36,000 scrap tires to energy
  • eliminating 2,500 tons of carbon emissions
  • keeping 8,000 tons of waste out of landfills

“This facility is going to be a model for waste-to-energy partnerships as well as the first stage in moving our city completely away from dumping waste into landfills,” said Lebanon Mayor Philip Craighead.

screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-2-36-23-pmOn Thursday, Lebanon and PHG Energy gave tours of its new plant to people from around the world. Once the tour buses arrived at the plant, PHG Energy staff members further explained that all the spare tires in Wilson county and scrap wood from any business within a 20 mile radius will be converted into energy through a process called gasification.

The wood and tires will first be shredded down so they can fit inside the plant’s special bins to process it. From there, through a series of chemical processes, 95% of the material that goes into the gasifier comes out as hot water that is used to power the nearby water treatment plant, reducing electricity costs by two-thirds. The other five percent converts to a carbon-rich biochar that the city plans to sell to local farmers to fertilize crops.

screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-2-40-10-pmThis new plant is saving the city money not only from the clean electricity generation. But also because the city landfill is less than a decade away from capacity. The gasification plant will save landfill space keeping millions of pounds of waste out of it.

Rockwood Recycling is supplying the $800,000 chipper for the city to use, so the city won’t have to pay for its own equipment. Each year Rockwood Recycling is responsible for recycling more than 28,000 tons of materials across the state for beneficial reuse and to keep them out of the area landfills. Lebanon’s gasification plant is an expansion of the city’s successful Think Green– Think Clean initiatives.

DOE webinar reveals opportunities, challenges in southeast for advancing clean energy

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) hosted a “Regional Energy Technology Innovation” webinar in late September inviting leading research universities to present their findings examining the clean energy technology innovation in their respective regions.

screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-2-43-40-pmThe universities held forums earlier this year and each forum was attended by leaders from federal, state, and local governments; industry, DOE national laboratories; academia; and nongovernmental organizations.

The forums highlighted the differences among regions in terms of their energy needs, resources, and vulnerabilities; customer demands, markets and capabilities. A key conclusion of the regional forums is that clean energy solutions must be tailored to meet regional needs.

These forums were held in part of DOE’s “Mission Innovation.” Mission Innovation is a multinational initiative to dramatically accelerate public and private global clean energy innovation that was announced at the United-Nations climate-change conference in Paris on November 30, 2015.

doeDuring the webinar, six different regions of the U.S. including the mid-atlantic, southwestern, northwestern, northeastern, midwest, and southeastern made presentations and spoke about the key takeaways, opportunities, priorities, challenges and next steps within their regions to achieve the driving force needed for maximum clean energy technology innovation.

The southeastern presentation was done by the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. The university’s vice chancellor of research and engagement, Dr. Taylor Eighmy, spoke about how the southeast’s area of expertise involved government-university-industry-national lab collaboration as well as rapid innovation and tech to market movement.

Dr. Eighmy said some of the major opportunities for the southeast include supportive state governments and a supportive investment community and innovator ecosystems. The southeast also has a strong industrial influence and their supply chains are beneficial.

According to Dr. Eighmy’s presentation, some of the main priorities and clean energy research and development focus areas for the southeast include advanced manufacturing, integrated grid management, bio-derived fuels and CO2 capture, nuclear energy and sustainable smart communities.

However, one of the greatest challenges the southeast faces in terms of advancing clean energy technology innovation is a need for improved business processes focusing on the speed of connecting industry to science and technology.

As the southeast moves forward, it will direct strategic collaborations tied to regional innovation needs, workforce needs, and especially innovation accelerators and private/foundation investment efforts in the clean energy technology space.

New accelerator program “Innovation Crossroads” to advance energy technology ideas

The Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Oak Ridge National Laboratory launched a new program called “Innovation Crossroads,” designed to continue advancing the energy technology ideas of our nation’s top innovators.

Up to five entrepreneurs will receive a fellowship that covers living costs, benefits and a travel stipend for up to 2 years, plus up to $350,000 to use on collaborative research and development at ORNL. The program is expected in start in early 2017.

ic2The announcement featured remarks from Thomas Zacharia, Deputy Director for Science and Technology at ORNL and Mark Johnson, Director of EERE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office.

“There is a huge opportunity and need to develop an emerging American energy ecosystem where clean tech entrepreneurs can thrive,” said Johnson. “This program gives the next generation of clean energy innovators a chance to make a transformative impact on the way we generate, process and use our energy resources. Innovation Crossroads will play an important role in strengthening the Southeast region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

A growing global population and increased industrialization require new approaches to energy that reliable, affordable and carbon neutral. While important progress has been made in the deployment of clean energy technologies, a new program at DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) will invest in the next generation of first-time clean energy entrepreneurs to accelerate the pace of innovation.

Innovation Crossroads is the most recent clean energy accelerator to launch at a DOE national laboratory and the first located in the Southeast. ORNL is the nation’s largest science and energy laboratory, with expertise and resources in clean energy, computing, neutron science, advanced materials, and nuclear science.

Located on ORNL’s main campus, Innovation Crossroads entrepreneurs will have access to ORNL’s world-class research talent and DOE facilities including the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility, the National Transportation Research Center, the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility and the Spallation Neutron Source. Through a partnership with mentor organizations in the Southeast, participants will also receive assistance with developing business strategies, conducting market research, and finding long-term financing and commercial partners.

innovation-crossroads-logo-2-6-24Innovation Crossroads will be led by Tom Rogers, ORNL Director of Industrial Partnerships and Economic Development.

For more information about Innovation Crossroads, please visit innovationcrossroads.ornl.gov



Launch Tennessee, TAEBC partner to run the “Energy Mentor Network”

The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council partnered with Launch Tennessee to run the Energy Mentor Network.

The goal of the Energy Mentor Network is to foster the growth of Tennessee advanced energy technologies and startups by connecting entrepreneurs with mentors and industry experts.

The Energy Network will pair mentors with new companies and entrepreneurs through a structured program involving panel presentations and mentoring sessions. The purpose of the program is to develop quality startups. After completing the program, startups will have an investable pitch, a solid business model, and a plan to establish traction.

The Energy Mentor Network will also provide unique access to industry assets, networking opportunities with TAEBC’s members and partners, and opportunities to participate in Launch Tennessee programming. The mentor network will use a video conference service to engage and connect mentors and entrepreneurs across the State of Tennessee when in person meetings are not possible.

For more information on how to apply to be a mentor, click here.

You can fill out a company/entrepreneur application here.