Babu nominated by President Trump to National Science Board

(Originally posted on UT Knoxville)

Suresh Babu, the UT-Oak Ridge National Laboratory Governor’s Chair for Advanced Manufacturing, was nominated Monday by President Donald J. Trump to serve a six-year term on the National Science Board (NSB).

“I am very flattered, honored, and humbled to have been chosen for this nomination,” Babu said. “I am looking forward to helping the board in any way I can and to help set the course for science, technology, and engineering in the US.”

Babu, one of the world’s leading experts in developing advanced materials, serves on several multiuniversity and multipartner projects, including IACMI—The Composites Institute, and on projects for the US government that include research for the Navy.

He is an example of the many ways that the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) work together, holding appointments in the Tickle College of Engineering’s Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering and Department of Materials Science and Engineering, as well as in the Energy and Environmental Sciences Directorate at ORNL.

Babu is active in conducting research at the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL with support from the DOE Advanced Manufacturing Office.

Read more here.

Why 3D printing is making East Tennessee a hotspot for advanced manufacturing

A recent article published online by Curbed is highlighting why Knoxville is becoming a power house in the advanced manufacturing sector in Tennessee.

Advanced manufacturing or additive manufacturing is an industry already changing the way the world consumes energy. For example, by 3D printing a car out of composites or light-weight materials that car weighs less which thus improves it’s overall fuel economy aligning with national goals to reach 54.5 MPG fuel standards by Model Year 2025.

The article praises 3D printing in Tennessee stating: “while industrial-capability 3D printing is still in development, this cutting-edge technology has already resulted in clusters of like-minded companies. And one of the most bustling areas for additive manufacturing in the country, and perhaps the world, may just be eastern Tennessee.”

It elaborates by saying Knoxville’s emergence is payoff for government investment in research and development citing Oak Ridge National Laboratory as a hub for government support of advanced manufacturing, and the lab has created a magnet luring innovative manufacturing companies.

Companies such as Local Motors, a firm developing 3D-printing cars, is planning on opening a facility in Knoxville early next year.

“Knoxville provides a unique opportunity,” says Kyle Rowe, an advanced materials engineer at Local Motors. “This is a budding technology corridor, with lots of suppliers and big players. That builds a self-sustaining network. Our supplier is just down the road.”

The innovations in East Tennessee go way beyond the desktop devices that most associate with the technology. In factories in Knoxville and nearby Clinton, companies are printing cars and even homes, living up to the aspirational “Innovation Valley” title applied by local civic boosters.

While the AMIE system created by SOM and Oak Ridge is made to go anywhere, its true legacy may be introducing advancements that reshape home energy usage and production. (Credit: Curbed)

While the AMIE system created by SOM and Oak Ridge is made to go anywhere, its true legacy may be introducing advancements that reshape home energy usage and production. (Credit: Curbed)

Oak Ridge researchers worked with architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (who also masterplanned the city of Oak Ridge, back in the ‘40s) to fabricate a 3D-printed mobile home that looks like a 21st century Airstream. Branch Technology, a local firm that prints modular housing recently collaborated with New York-based SHoP Architects to create Flotsam & Jetsam, a sprawling pavilion displayed at Design Miami last weekend that utilizes bamboo.

The core of the Knoxville’s 3D-printing capabilities come out of the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility (MDF) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a cutting-edge research facility with more than 60 metal and polymer printers, as well as a composites laboratory. According to William Peter, who runs the MDF, the lab has spoken with more than 700 entities interested in gaining experience with new technology and collaborating with top scientists.

The plastic "ribs" that form the frame of the mobile home were made via 3D printing and additive manufacturing. (Credit: Curbed)

The plastic “ribs” that form the frame of the mobile home were made via 3D printing and additive manufacturing. (Credit: Curbed)

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

Ever since the lab decided to extend its focus on additive manufacturing around 2007, it has refined and expanded the possibilities of 3D printing, from simple plastics to carbon fiber and metal. Now, 40 staff members and dozens of students and partners focus on new ways to create high-performance parts and products.

In addition to Oak Ridge, Knoxville is also home to the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI). IACMI is a multi-state partnership of industry, universities, national laboratories, and federal, state and local governments accelerating the development and adoption of cutting-edge manufacturing technologies for low-cost, energy-efficient advanced polymer composites for vehicles, wind turbines, and compressed gas storage which will benefit the nation’s energy and economic security.

To read the full article, please visit

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.

New national labs pilot opens doors to small businesses

Last week at the Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative’s Southeast Regional Summit in Atlanta, Ga., the U.S. Department of Energy announced the national laboratories who will be taking the lead in implementing a new Small Business Vouchers Pilot, a public-private partnership that will connect clean energy innovators across the country with the top-notch scientists, engineers and world-class facilities at our national laboratories.

TAEBC member Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) was selected as one of the five Energy Department National Laboratories to lead the $20 million pilot, with ORNL receiving the largest slice of the pie ($5.6 million).

This effort will help small businesses bring next-generation clean energy technologies to the market faster by unleashing the vast science and engineering capabilities of the Energy Department’s national laboratories to solve small businesses’ most pressing challenges. In total, the five labs will provide vouchers (starting later this summer) to more than 100 small businesses.

The labs chosen will focus on assisting small businesses developing specific clean energy technologies in the following areas: advanced manufacturing, buildings, vehicles, wind, water, bioenergy, fuel cells, geothermal and solar.

For more information about the voucher program and how it works, click here.

Join the conversation on clean energy manufacturing in the Southeast: Register for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Southeast Regional Summit

Registration is now open for the Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative’s (CEMI) Southeast Regional Summit! The all-day conference, hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and open to all free of charge, will take place on July 9, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia, at the Renaissance Atlanta Midtown Hotel. The Southeast Regional Summit will bring together leaders from industry, academia, and government to focus on competitiveness and innovation in clean energy manufacturing throughout the southeastern United States. The Summit is the third in a series organized around the country, and will convene key stakeholders to:

  • Inform CEMI’s efforts to strengthen regional and national manufacturing competitiveness;
  • Showcase innovations in clean energy technology manufacturing and advanced manufacturing in the region;
  • Highlight federal and state resources for Southeast manufacturers and innovators to scale innovation to manufacturing; and
  • Foster networking between innovators, manufacturers, and federal and regional resources.

Dr. George P. “Bud” Peterson, President of Georgia Institute of Technology and partner in DOE’s efforts to strengthen U.S. advanced manufacturing, will make opening keynote remarks. Additional prominent leaders in clean energy manufacturing will participate in panel discussions that will focus on new innovations in clean energy technologies, enhancing the competitiveness of manufacturing in the Southeast, and existing programs and funding opportunities for companies focused on clean energy technologies and advanced manufacturing. Also, you don’t want to miss hearing about an exciting new DOE pilot for small businesses that will be announced at the summit!

To reserve your spot and join the conversation about clean energy manufacturing, register to attend the CEMI Southeast Regional Summit and visit the Summit Web page for up-to-date information on summit details and agenda.

CEMI is a DOE-wide commitment to increasing American competitiveness in the production of clean energy products and boosting U.S. manufacturing competitiveness across the board by increasing energy productivity. CEMI provides a strategic integration of the manufacturing work conducted throughout DOE, and collaborates closely with industry, policymakers, think tanks, and other stakeholders. Learn more about CEMI’s activities.