The U.S. Energy Department (DOE) awarded $3.8 million for 13 projects to use high-performance computing resources at its national laboratories to improve manufacturing. Led by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory as partners, the High Performance Computing for Manufacturing (HPC4Mfg) program brings together world-class supercomputers and scientific expertise at the national labs with U.S. manufacturers to address technical challenges related to energy and manufacturing. Partnering organizations will gain access high performance computing (HPC) to support advanced clean energy manufacturing and improve economic competitiveness in manufacturing.

Each project will receive up to $300,000 to support research performed by the national lab partners and allow the partners to run HPC compute cycles. Partners range from small to large companies, industry consortiums, and institutes. Using HPC for product design and manufacturing process development can accelerate innovation, lower energy costs, shorten testing time, reduce waste, and cut time to market.

The HPC4Mfg program currently supports 16 projects that include improving turbine blades for aircraft engines, reducing heat loss in electronics, increasing steel-mill energy efficiency, and improving fiberglass production. These projects, brought forward by 22 industry partners, total more than $10 million in total funding. As the HPC4Mfg program continues, the DoE anticipates two rounds of proposals sought each year – spring and fall.

Prab expands manufacturing in Kalamazoo, Michigan

Prab Inc., a KMC Global Co., purchased manufacturing space across the street from the company’s current location in Kalamazoo, Michigan, to add 159,000ft2 of manufacturing capacity. The new building also consolidates sales and engineering teams from all company divisions to operate under a single roof.

Randy McBroom, Prab vice president-manufacturing says, “Expanding our manufacturing and office space capacity solidifies our commitment to U.S. jobs in the state of Michigan and helps us improve work flow and bring some outsourced functions in house. This expansion allows us to meet the needs of our customers today and provides room for growth.”

Increased demand for Prab’s custom scrap metal and fluid filtration equipment is coming from changing operating dynamics in major metalworking industries. Instead of long-runs of the same part and the same material, where changeovers were measured in years and changes in material types where measured in multiple years, the metalworking industry is adjusting to smaller parts runs, more frequent changes in design and material type, formula changes in steel and aluminum, and the addition of hard-to-machine alloys such as titanium.

PV installations to surpass $151B annually in 2024

Solar photovoltaic (PV) is expected to shift from a high-cost, subsidized source of energy to a growing market with the potential to displace other energy technologies, according to a report by Navigant Research. By the end of the decade, solar PV is projected to be cost-competitive with retail electricity prices in a significant portion of the world as module prices and installation costs decline. Global annual revenue from solar PV installations is expected to surpass $151.6 billion in 2024.

During the next 10 years, the expanding solar industry is expected to offer a variety of growth opportunities to leading players across the value chain, intensifying competition as companies pursue international opportunities. This is expected to place continued pressure on margins, incentivizing further vertical integration and driving mergers and acquisitions.

5ME and Star SU to advance cryogenic machining

5ME LLC and Star SU LLC have formed a licensing agreement authorizing Star SU to manufacture and market 5ME’s patented cryogenic tooling designs for end mills, ball mills, tapered ball mills, thread mills, reamers, and drills under the brand name BlueZone Cryogenic tooling. The agreement covers the United States, Mexico, and Canada.

5ME’s cryogenic machining process enables higher cutting speeds for increased material removal rates and longer tool life by transmitting liquid nitrogen at -321°F through the spindle/turret and tool body directly to the cutting tool’s edge.

“We’ve worked with Star SU to develop tooling solutions on a variety of cryogenic machining configurations and applications,” says Bill Horwarth, president of 5ME. “Our companies share the excitement for bringing cryogenic machining to an ever-growing group of manufacturers.”

This environmentally friendly machining technology increases throughput, part quality, tool life, and profitability while reducing energy consumption. It also provides a healthier, safer work environment through the elimination of traditional water-based or oil-based coolants. Applications include high-speed cutting of titanium and other tough-to-cut alloys common among the energy, aerospace, and heavy equipment industries.

Discussions on access to energy

More than 2,000 world leaders, corporate executives, and trade delegates attended the World Energy Forum 2016 in New York, Oct. 19-22, 2016. Heads of state, government ministers, and ambassadors from more than 150 countries joined corporate leaders, associations, academics, and financiers to discuss the roles of business and government in providing universal energy access – part of the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“There is nothing more critical to our future and security than access to energy. It’s the most important issue of our time and impacts all nations and all peoples,” says Dr. Harold HyunSuk Oh, chairman of the World Energy Forum. “As the best recognized and most respected platform for energy collaboration, the World Energy Forum offers global leaders in government, industry, and academia the ability to share ideas, find solutions and take action on this important issue effecting humanity.”

In response to urgent world energy issues and calls from many heads of state and energy ministers, the World Energy Forum – previously held every four years and last held in Dubai in 2012 – will now convene annually, rotating national host cities each year. The United States was selected following encouragement from the United States government and the United Nations.

The World Energy Forum’s workshops and sessions were developed by energy experts and include leading organizations, executives, academics, media, and government officials. Session topics focused on oil, coal, natural gas, solar, wind, biofuels, nuclear energy, commercial and infrastructural development, water, finance, security, efficiency, transportation, corporate sustainability, electricity markets, and energy transit’s role in providing universal energy access to all. Special sessions focused on energy crises impacting indigenous peoples and landlocked nations as well as increasing women’s engagement in sustainable energy.

Powerphase wins patent for Turbophase gas turbine upgrade

Powerphase, a developer of upgrades for gas turbines, has been issued a new patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for technology that improves the output, fuel efficiency, and responsiveness of gas turbines.

Turbophase allows gas turbines to maintain output at high ambient temperatures or elevations. A fuel-driven engine and its waste heat – along with a highly efficient compressor in a cogeneration process – generates hot, compressed air approximately 35% more efficiently than the gas turbine itself. The air is then injected into the gas turbine, allowing it to produce more megawatt hours in all ambient conditions.

The most common methods for increasing output from gas turbines are inlet conditioning, injection of water or steam, and upgrades offered by the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). The company is working toward partnerships with all of the OEMs, and plans to offer its Turbophase technology both in partnership with OEMs and directly to gas turbine owners globally.

Duke Energy Renewables acquires six solar projects from SolAmerica Energy

Duke Energy Renewables acquired six solar projects in Georgia totaling 4.7MW from SolAmerica Energy. SolAmerica Energy developed the ground-mounted projects and managed construction under an engineering, procurement, and construction agreement with Duke Energy affiliate REC Solar. The projects are part of the Georgia Power Advanced Solar Initiative, and Georgia Power will purchase the power generated by the projects under a 30-year agreement.