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Jan 9, 2015

President Obama Announces New Knoxville-based Manufacturing Innovation Hub

White House LogoThe Department of Energy and a consortium of 122 companies, nonprofits and universities led by the University of Tennessee-Knoxville are investing more than $250 million to launch a new institute for developing stronger, lighter weight materials for new manufacturing products.

UT-Knoxville will be home to the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation, which will work to develop lower-cost, higher-speed and more efficient manufacturing and recycling processes for advanced composites.

“Places like this are who we are,” President Obama said in announcing plans for the institute Jan. 9. “We create. We innovate. We build. We do it together.”

The U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Manufacturing Office will provide $70 million in federal funding for the project, according to the White House. Additional funding will come from non-federal sources.

The Institute will focus on lowering the overall manufacturing costs of advanced composites by 50 percent, reducing the energy used to make composites by 75 percent and increasing the recyclability of composites to over 95 percent within the next decade, according to a White House fact sheet.

“The Institute has assembled a world-class team of organizations from across the industry, including leading manufacturers, material suppliers and software developers, government and academia, with both broad and deep experience in all aspects of the advanced composite product development process from design and prototyping to manufacturing at commercial scale,” the fact sheet continued.

“The new institute pairs leading carbon fiber producers and suppliers – like Materials Innovation Technologies, Harper International, and Strongwell – with key end users like TPI for wind turbines and Ford for automobiles.

“The new hub will also unite these manufacturers with top-flight research universities, such as the University of Tennessee with its pioneering 3D printed carbon fiber research, and the University of Kentucky with the largest U.S. open-access carbon-fiber chemistry laboratory.

"The combined resources and expertise of the team will provide a leap forward in composite manufacturing and further enhance U.S. competitiveness in clean energy as the team cultivates additional new partnerships.”

For more on the institute, including a map of key partners’ locations and a video on using composites for clean energy, visit the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

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The Tennessee Valley region is home to six major automotive manufacturers with a supply chain of over 900 mostly small- and medium-sized businesses, employing more than 100,000 people.

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