RAPID Institute Announces First Project Selections

National consortium chooses 21 projects that tackle manufacturing challenges

Leaders of the Rapid Advancement in Process Intensification Deployment (RAPID) Manufacturing Institute of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) announced the first round of public-private partnership projects selected for negotiation here at AIChE’s Annual Meeting. Eighty-five institutions joined in submitting more than 70 proposals in six technology focus areas: chemical and commodity processing, renewable bioproducts, natural gas upgrading, modeling and simulation, module manufacturing, and intensified process fundamentals.

A number of leading universities, companies, research organizations, and government laboratories submitted or supported the proposals selected. Universities involved in RAPID’s  planned project portfolio will include Alabama, Auburn, Carnegie Mellon, Delaware, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Iowa State, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina State, Oregon State, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, South Carolina, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, and West Virginia. Companies participating are: Aspentech, Chemstations, Compact Membrane Systems, Corning, Dow, DuPont, Easy Energy, EcoCatalytic, ExxonMobil, HTRI, IntraMicron, Lubrizol, Metcer, Praxair, PSE, Secat, Shell, Sironix, Sour Gas, and UTRC. Agenda 2020, Idaho National Laboratory, the National Energy Technology Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Savannah River National Laboratory are among other participants. The selected projects range in duration from 15 months to 4 years and receive funding of approximately $30 million including cost share. RAPID plans a second project solicitation in the spring of 2018.

RAPID issued its call for proposals last summer, basing its requests on an extensive technology road map that surfaced important science and technology gaps that, if addressed, could improve U.S. manufacturing. More than 100 subject matter experts took part in those technology assessments.

Rob Ivester, director of the Advanced Manufacturing Office in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy, congratulated RAPID and the organizations behind the successful proposals on this important milestone. “RAPID is demonstrating how public-private investments can improve technologies that strengthen U.S. manufacturing, create good jobs, and train tomorrow’s workforce by unleashing major savings in energy-intensive industries,” he said.

RAPID Chief Executive Officer Karen Fletcher said, “the RAPID team is excited to be getting these inaugural projects underway.” “Working with these partner organizations, RAPID will make significant contributions to manufacturing productivity and efficiency by developing next-generation process designs and modular process equipment that can be broadly deployed,” she explained. Fletcher urged other interested organizations to join the effort as project partners, members, or supporters.

Fletcher emphasized that RAPID is working closely with the other Manufacturing USA Institutes, which share common goals but have distinct industrial focuses, to ensure cooperation and share approaches to commercializing “step-change” innovations. To that end, she said, RAPID will leverage AIChE’s substantial educational resources to train students and the workforce in the application of the new modular process intensification tools.

Additional information about the RAPID Manufacturing Institute and its objectives can be found at www.aiche.org/rapid.

About AIChE
AIChE, founded in 1908, is a professional society of more than 53,000 chemical engineers in 110 countries. Its members work in corporations, universities and government, using their knowledge of chemical processes to develop safe and useful products for the benefit of society. Through its varied programs, AIChE continues to be a focal point for information exchange on the frontiers of chemical engineering research in such areas as energy, sustainability, biological and environmental engineering, nanotechnology, and chemical plant safety and security. More information about AIChE is available at www.aiche.org.

On December 9, 2016, the U.S. Department of Energy announced the establishment of the 10th Manufacturing USA Institute, the Rapid Advancement in Process Intensification Deployment (RAPID) Institute. Leveraging up to $70 million in federal funding and an additional $70 million in cost-share commitments from more than 130 partners, RAPID is focused on developing breakthrough technologies to boost energy productivity and energy efficiency by 20 percent in five years. RAPID will leverage approaches to modular chemical process intensification used in a variety of industries. In the chemical industry alone, these technologies have the potential to save more than $9 billion annually.