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REMADE Institute invests $6 million in projects to improve competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing

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The REMADE Institute has selected nine projects for negotiation dedicated to improving the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing and advancing the circular economy.

These projects align with REMADE's mission to drive down the cost of technologies essential to reuse, recycle and remanufacture materials such as metals, fibers, polymers and electronic waste. This is expected to save the U.S. manufacturing base billions in energy costs and will strengthen the nation's economic competitiveness through innovation. REMADE is pursuing this mission by enabling early stage applied research and development of key industrial platform technologies that could dramatically reduce the embodied energy and carbon emissions associated with industrial-scale materials production and processing. 

The following teams have been selected for negotiations:

Quantification of financial and environmental benefits tradeoffs in multi-generational product family development considering Re-X performances

The objectives are to develop fundamental models and new design tools with capabilities of generating and comparing design for Re-X alternatives considering economic profitability and environmental impact savings. The specifics of the research objectives are to:

(1) identify design for reliability processes factors that are interdependent with Re-X options, thus establish models for the interdependencies

(2) integrate these  interdependence models with existing reliability analysis tools so that new analysis tools could take into account Re-X options in design for reliability

(3) create a decision support system for the optimization of product family design considering reliability and Re-X options concurrently

(4) take into account the uncertainties resulted from post design activities so that robust design tradeoff decisions can be made.  

Design iteration tool to sustain remanufacturability

The overall goal of this project is the development and application of a software plug-in to enable the design of components that will satisfy both EPA standards-driven light weighting efforts and parametric feature designs that enable remanufacturability (e.g., remove material where feasible for light-weighting and, at the same time, add material where needed to sustain remanufacturability). To achieve this goal, the first objective of this project is to establish a best practice approach to modify a typical design process for DfReman. 

The second objective is the creation of a software plugin for mainstream CAD software to enable design for remanufacturing consideration of high-value components. This tool will use realistic life estimates to automatically generate design alternatives for sustained remanufacturability, thereby reducing energy, emissions, material consumption and cost.This  tool development will focus on engine cylinder heads and industrial pump components and will facilitate the generation of  designs that will make components more readily available for remanufacturing processes, such as, re-machining of critical wear features for return to service, complete with estimates of cost/benefit of analysis for multiple lifecycles.  

The third and final objective disseminate the results of this project by developing  training videos on the application of DfReman rules and the software plugin and creating a website to disseminate the plugin and training materials. 

Low heat repair of cast iron 

The objective of this project is to develop a robust weld repair process that does not require pre-heat temperatures greater than 315°C and shortens cool down periods to less than eight hours. In addition, the process will be able to consistently create a weld with minimal regions of high hardness and no cracks in or around the weld. 

Rapid damage identification to reduce remanufacturing costs   

The objective of this project is to develop and validate a remanufacturability assessment method that will support decision making about the viability of remanufacturing a component. The proposed method is based on development of machine learning (ML) techniques for recognizing different types of component damage, embedding developed ML algorithms in low-cost, damage-identification hardware for use in-process at the remanufacturing factory floor, and using this in-process technique to develop a real- time estimate of remanufacturing costs for a component. Although most high-value, metal-alloy components can be remanufactured, sufficiently accurate and rapid decision making support tools are needed to significantly reduce remanufacturing costs and increase the throughput and volume of remanufactured components.

Low-concentration metal recovery from complex streams using gas-assisted microflow solvent extraction       

The objective of this project is to develop GAME for efficient and cost-effective extraction and purification of low-concentration, high-value metals from complex streams. The successful development of this technology will contribute to the production of high-purity precious metals from end-of-life PCBs of various sources. GAME uses three phases (aqueous, organic, and gas) to achieve an efficient separation in a confined microchannel. 

Development and validation of metal separation technology for complex metal systems  

The goal of the proposed work is to develop, design, and demonstrate novel bench scale processes for efficient, low-cost, and environmentally benign elemental separation from low concentration solutions obtained from leaching of electronic waste (e-waste) processing streams. 

These are key processes for the recovery of valuable materials from e-waste and will provide a pathway to profitable recycling processes for high-value metals. Separation of multiple elements from complex metal-bearing waste streams (with low concentration) through traditional metal separation processes, such as solvent extraction, ion exchange, and precipitation, is economically and environmentally challenging. 

The objective of this proposal is to evaluate two innovative processes/technology, electrosterically stabilized nanocrystalline cellulose, and Continuous Ion Exchange and Ion Chromatography with modified zeolite and polymers, for the separation of Al, Cu, Au, Ag, and Pd from e-waste streams.

CombiClean: Facilitating contaminant removal in recycled plastics  

The objective of the project is to develop a hyperspectral data base to enable more effective sorting and cleaning of secondary plastics feedstocks. The project will produce several tangible outcomes. An open source database, CombiClean, will be developed, disseminated and archived in a publicly available repository.  Hyperspectral characterization (combined FTIR, Raman, and LIBS) for model systems in virgin, contaminated, and cleaned conditions will be collected. 

Generated data will be used to train machine learning algorithms and demonstrate improved sorting. High throughput methods will be used to develop customized cleaning solutions based on specific contaminants incorporating enzymes. A process model will be populated by the cleaning data. Process economics and life-cycle impacts will be calculated to compare the new optimized processes against the present baseline of simple caustic / surfactants at high temperatures.

Biological & bio-mechanical technologies for recycled fibers to regain fiber quality and increase secondary feedstock in high value-added paper grades   

The goal of this project is to develop new technologies for removing contaminants from recycled paper to less than 0.5% and to develop technologies for regaining or fiber quality without using only mechanical refining. The new technologies developed will help paper recycling industry to produce much cleaner pulp and higher quality fibers so more recycled fibers can be used in place of virgin fibers in high grade paper. The new technologies developed based on new enzyme applications will also reduce the energy consumptions in both contamination removal and fiber refining process and increase the yield of the fiber recycling.

Advanced education and workforce training in fibers recycling

The goal of this project is to develop curriculum and coursework for training modules in advanced fibers recycling for the REMADE Education and Workforce Development Tiered Certificate Pathway program . The specific objectives of the project are develop course content that fill the knowledge gap including:

(1) develop course materials to cover all the major recycled fibers and all major paper grades; 

(2) develop course materials to cover the entire fiber recycling process; 

(3) develop course materials to address specific challenges in the paper recycling process; (4) develop course materials to cover fiber identification, testing and quality control, and senor technologies in sorting; 

(5) develop a coursework structure that is in line with REMADE Tiered Certificate Pathway framework and that can be delivered through traditional teaching methods, online and distance learning, and hands-on experience in in-person short course format.