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MATERIALS TECHNOLOGIES FOR THE PROCESS INDUSTRIES OF THE FUTURE Executive Summary The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Industrial Technology (OIT) requested that the National Research Council, through the National Materials Advisory Board, conduct a study to evaluate its crosscutting materials programs (i.e., programs on materials applicable to more than one industry). The Committee on Materials Technologies for Process Industries was established to review OIT’s materials programs and management strategies, identify research and application needs, and identify barriers to the commercialization of new technologies. The committee met with OIT program managers and industry representatives in Washington, D.C., on September 15, 16, and 17, 1999, to discuss the progress, accomplishments, and strategies of OIT’s materials program. This report reviews the results of the workshop and offers recommendations for strengthening and focusing OIT’s materials technologies programs. Chapter 1 provides background on OIT’s Industries of the Future (IOF) Program and other activities. Chapter 2 is an overview of the materials needs of IOF member industries. Chapter 3 is an overview of OIT’s current materials programs. Chapter 4 presents the committee’s review of OIT’s management strategies. In Chapter 5, the committee identifies directions for materials research and development (R&D). Chapter 6 contains the committee’s recommendations for improving OIT’s materials programs. BACKGROUND TO INDUSTRIES OF THE FUTURE Chapter 1 describes OIT’s transition to a “market-pull” strategy, the unique characteristics of the IOF Program, the OIT materials programs, and the opportunities for developing crosscutting technologies. The nine IOF industries, which are all major energy consumers and major generators of wastes, are: agriculture, aluminum, chemicals, forest products, glass, metalcasting, mining, petroleum refining, and steel. OIT also supports some work in related industries (e.g., carbon products, forging, heat treating, and welding) when appropriate. The metal forging and heat-treating industries are included in the scope of this report.
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MATERIALS TECHNOLOGIES FOR THE PROCESS INDUSTRIES OF THE FUTURE Market-Pull Strategy Since 1993, OIT has been changing its R&D programs from a “technology-push” strategy, in which research projects are selected and prioritized primarily for their potential to reduce energy consumption and waste generation, to a market-pull strategy, in which R&D projects are selected and prioritized primarily for meeting identified industry needs and priorities. A critical element of the market-pull strategy has been a strong emphasis on team involvement in R&D projects. Team members may include national laboratories, universities, and industrial firms. OIT projects have been extended beyond technology development to include product development and demonstration, as well as early commercialization, in partnership with industry. However, industry is primarily responsible for commercialization, and OIT plays a supporting role. Characteristics of the Industries of the Future The nine IOF industries have several common characteristics: high capital intensity, global competition, cyclical business, production of commodity products (high product volumes, low prices, and low profit margins), and mature markets and technologies. These industries are also major energy consumers and generators of wastes. Current business realities have had profound effects on the availability of capital for industry to invest in product development, in the scale-up of new technologies, and in facilities necessary for commercialization. Cost and profitability pressures have limited investments by individual companies in R&D, as well as their ability to accept and implement new technologies and their willingness to take risks. An intangible but important barrier to the acceptance of a new technology is organizational resistance to technological change. When OIT selects industrial partners, it must take these factors into account to increase the probability of success. Crosscutting Technologies The concept of crosscutting is highly attractive as a way of broadening the impact, and thus the return on investment, of a particular technology. In some cases, the resources required to solve the materials problems of a single industry may be too great to be cost effective. However, if several industries will benefit, it may make “business sense” for the taxpayer to invest in its development. For example, the need for improved refractories is included in nearly all of the technology road maps for the IOF industries. However, because the operating environments and conditions of these industries differ greatly (e.g., glass and steel) materials compositions, performance requirements, and fabrication techniques for refractory materials also differ greatly.
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MATERIALS TECHNOLOGIES FOR THE PROCESS INDUSTRIES OF THE FUTURE MATERIALS NEEDS OF THE INDUSTRIES OF THE FUTURE Chapter 2 provides an overview of the materials needs of the IOF industries, especially crosscutting needs. The materials needs are documented in detail in the industry road maps developed for the IOF Program. Table ES-1 shows the most important materials needs of the IOF industries. Several interesting conclusions can be drawn from this table. First, many of the IOF industries have similar, if not identical, needs. Thus, selecting truly crosscutting R&D projects would not be difficult. Second, many areas for R&D are currently not considered interesting, exciting, or on the cutting edge of technology. Nevertheless, OIT project managers should take these areas into account in planning R&D programs. Third, a few areas of materials research are extremely important in ALL of the industry road maps. Therefore, progress in these areas (corrosion, wear, high-temperature materials [including refractories], and materials modeling/database development) would have the greatest effect on energy savings and waste reduction and would meet the needs of the IOF industries. Therefore, these areas are emphasized in this report. Finally, a number of common issues (predictability, producibility, productivity, pollution prevention, and performance) and emerging technologies will impact crosscutting materials programs. OIT MATERIALS PROGRAMS Chapter 3 provides an overview of OIT’s materials programs. The Advanced Industrial Materials (AIM) Program and the Continuous Fiber Ceramic Composites (CFCC) Program are focused principally on the development and commercialization of materials. As carryovers from prior years, the AIM and CFCC programs are only now being fully integrated into OIT’s market- pull strategy or coordinated with the technology road maps. The Industrial Power Generation Program includes the development and testing of materials to accelerate the development and commercialization of industrial power-generation equipment (e.g., advanced turbine systems [ATS] and microturbines). The Industrial Power Generation program has some areas of synergy with other OIT programs, especially with intermetallics (AIM) and ceramics (CFCC). Recently, the Industrial Power Generation program has transferred to DOE’s Office of Power Technologies.
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MATERIALS TECHNOLOGIES FOR THE PROCESS INDUSTRIES OF THE FUTURE TABLE ES-1 Importance of Selected Materials Needs to IOF Industries Agriculture Aluminum Chemicals Forest Products Glass Metal Casting Mining Steel Forging Heat Treating Corrosion * ** *** *** ** ** *** ** * * Examples Corrosion by agricultural chemicals Liquid aluminum attack on refractories Corrosion of reaction vessels and pipes Boilers, black liquor Molten glass attack on refractories Molten metal attack on refractories Drilling mud and effluent gases Corrosion of refractories and mill equipment N/A N/A Wear ** * ** *** ** ** *** *** * * Examples Abrasion of earth-moving parts Wear of refractories Liquid/solid abrasion in pipes Wear of raw materials parts and abrasive wear during paper manufacture Wear of refractories in tanks and on handling, molds, and process machinery Wear of dies Wear of drill bits Wear of refractories and equipment for handling hot metal Wear and cracking of dies High-Temperature Materials (including refractories) * ** ** * *** ** ** *** ** ** Examples Refractories, anodes, cathodes Containment vessels, refractories Boilers Refractories Dies, refractories Tools and down-hole equipment Better refractories Dies Handling equipment Modeling/Database Development * ** *** ** ** ** *** ** * * Examples Modeling of castings, modeling of smelter cells Long-term materials response to harsh environments Corrosion modeling Process modeling and refractory response Heat-flow modeling and design of gates and risers Lifetime modeling of down-hole materials Lifetime of materials used in handling Thermomechanical response of dies, etc. Thermal response of materials * = moderately important ** = important *** = very important
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MATERIALS TECHNOLOGIES FOR THE PROCESS INDUSTRIES OF THE FUTURE MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES Chapter 4 discusses ways to improve OIT’s program management, the development of project selection criteria, commercialization plans, and industry involvement in OIT programs. The recommended management strategies will be applicable to crosscutting programs as OIT integrates its materials projects into the market-pull strategy. Program Management Based on the workshop presentations, OIT’s current strategies for program management are generally consistent with its objectives for the IOF Program. However, several improvements could be made. Recommendation. The Office of Industrial Technologies (OIT) should establish a permanent advisory panel of industry experts to work in parallel with OIT’s industry teams. Members of the panel could be drawn from these teams and should include at least one representative of each Industries of the Future member industry. The advisory panel would provide expert knowledge and advice to OIT program managers and ensure that the ultimate goals are kept in focus throughout the development cycle of a technology. The panel should perform the following functions: rank industry priorities and select programs assist in developing program metrics (to measure progress) review programs annually Criteria for Project Selection The committee identified a number of ways the criteria for project selection could be improved. Currently, project selection appears to be greatly influenced by the program manager heading the IOF department associated with a particular industry. Although this arrangement may encourage accountability, it does not always result in the best selections. A panel of experts, which would include industry leaders, would be able to select projects of value to the industry that are also consistent with OIT’s objectives. As part of the selection process, the panel would assess the project’s potential economic payoff. OIT will play a critical role in funding and moving forward high-risk/high-payoff projects that are not supported at the commercial level because of competitive pressures.
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MATERIALS TECHNOLOGIES FOR THE PROCESS INDUSTRIES OF THE FUTURE Plans for Commercialization The committee found many ways the commercialization of new technologies could be improved. The process could be improved if it were given more support, including taking advantage of the expertise of the office of research and technology applications (ORTAs) at the national laboratories and the small business innovation research (SBIR) and small business technology transfer (STTR) programs. ORTA personnel could assist OIT in determining the economic impacts of new technologies on the IOF industries. Industry Involvement Truly effective research must be closely coupled to industry needs, in terms of both timing and technology. If the results of the research are not useful to industry, the economic payoff may be smaller than if it meets an identified industry need. If an R&D program does not appear to be focused on meeting an identified need, OIT may have to reevaluate its support for the program. The evaluation should be made by people with both industry and technological expertise and with the authority to make decisions about implementation. OPPORTUNITIES FOR RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT Chapter 5 discusses R&D opportunities for select IOF industries and crosscutting technologies, using refractories as an example. In keeping with the crosscutting theme of this report, the committee focused on materials technologies that would enable or improve the understanding and processing of existing and new products used by more than one IOF industry rather than on the development of industry-specific products. The R&D opportunities are summarized in the following recommendations. Recommendation. The Office of Industrial Technologies (OIT) should focus its materials technologies programs on a few high-priority areas that would meet the needs of several member industries of the Industries of the Future Program and, when warranted, develop crosscutting programs to address these areas. Areas to consider include: corrosion, wear, high-temperature materials (including refractories), and materials models and databases. OIT should use the panel of experts to identify materials-performance requirements and process parameters for each industry as a basis for selecting crosscutting technologies. OIT should then work with the panel to develop and select programs.
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MATERIALS TECHNOLOGIES FOR THE PROCESS INDUSTRIES OF THE FUTURE Recommendation. Funding by industry, universities, and the national laboratories for the development of improved refractories has been reduced although most of the members of Industries of the Future Program have identified a need for them. The Office of Industrial Technologies should consider starting a refractories initiative to encourage cooperative research and development agreements and other mechanisms that would promote cooperation between industry and government agencies. OIT should consider supporting research and development in the following areas: reducing corrosion/erosion high-temperature reactions between molten metal, glass, and refractories; reducing the buildup of materials on the surface of the refractories; clarifying the fundamentals of monolithic refractories (including drying mechanisms and new binder systems); and developing data for finite element analysis design. OVERALL RECOMMENDATIONS Recommendation. The Office of Industrial Technologies should coordinate its materials technology programs with the technology road maps developed for the Industries of the Future (IOF) Program. Unfinished road maps should be completed, and all road maps should be updated every two to three years. Requests for research proposals should be linked specifically to the highest priority needs of the IOF industries. Recommendation. The Office of Industrial Technology should determine the highest priority needs in the technology road maps as a basis for identifying opportunities for crosscutting research. Industry experts should be engaged to define the materials-performance requirements and operating environments. This information could then be used to develop new programs and evaluate current programs. Recommendation. Current and new materials technology programs should be fully integrated into the market-pull strategy. Proposals for new programs should be evaluated based on how they will meet the highest priority needs identified in the technology road maps. All programs should be reviewed annually. Those that support the highest priority needs should be strongly supported; those that do not should be refocused or discontinued. Recommendation. A clear definition of “success” should be established at the beginning of all contracts, and progress should be measured annually by established metrics. A process should be developed for reevaluating projects that have not met their goals to determine if they should be continued.
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