Idaho National Lab Goal Is to Improve U.S. Manufacturing Efficiency by 50 Percent

The Idaho National Laboratory has announced that it will help operate a new U.S. Department of Energy institute – the Reducing Embodied-energy and Decreasing Emissions Institute, or REMADE – which will investigate how to increase manufacturing efficiency, according to a January 5 report by the Idaho Falls Post Register.

REMADE will leverage up to $70 million in federal funding, subject to appropriations, and will be matched by $70 million in private cost-share commitments from over 100 partners.

The REMADE Institute will focus on driving down the cost of technologies needed to reuse, recycle, and remanufacture materials such as metals, fibers, polymers, and electronic waste – and aims to achieve a 50 percent improvement in overall energy efficiency by 2027.

These efficiency measures could save billions in energy costs, according to the DOE,  and improve U.S. economic competitiveness through innovative new manufacturing techniques, small business opportunities, and new training and jobs for American workers.

REMADE  will be headquartered in Rochester, New York – although, with more than 100 private partners on-board,  research also will occur at a number of facilities throughout the country.

Eric Peterson, an INL researcher and manager, will lead one of four divisions within the new institute, focused on recycling and recovery processes, he told the local news outlet. The institute will focus on metals, fibers, polymers and electronic waste.

INL will take part in one REMADE project examining auto recycling methods, Peterson said. Metals such as aluminum, steel and copper from old cars are churned up into small pieces and mixed together. Researchers from INL and the University of Utah hope to improve the metal separation process, which could lead to a higher resale value for purer metals, as well as increased energy efficiency.

In another project, INL will team with a paper manufacturer, the Post Register reported. Newspaper and cardboard that’s been deposited alongside other recycling items often is contaminated with small particles of glass and plastic, Peterson said. Researchers hope to figure out ways to “disentangle” the paper fibers from other recycling products, which could mean less paper products are thrown away or burned, according to the local news outlet.

INL will be a key asset for the institute because it has a long history of conducting nuclear separation and recycling research, Peterson commented.

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