Illinois has a leadership role in new Manufacturing USA Institute on Clean Energy


Rick Kubetz, Engineering Communications Office

As part of the Manufacturing USA initiative, the Energy Department announced its new Reducing Embodied-energy and Decreasing Emissions (REMADE) Institute —a national coalition of leading universities and companies that will forge new clean energy initiatives deemed critical in keeping U.S. manufacturing competitive.

The REMADE Institute which will be led by the Sustainable Manufacturing Innovation Alliance (SMIA) at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), will leverage up to $70 million in federal funding that will be matched by $70 million in private cost-share commitments from industry and other consortium members, including 85 partners.

Magdi Azer
Magdi Azer
The University of Illinois, a Tier 1 member of the Institute, will work in collaboration with RIT, Idaho National Lab, Argonne National Lab, and other leading universities, national labs and industrial partners in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy. In all, 26 universities, 44 companies, seven national labs, 26 industry trade associations and foundations and three states (New York, Colorado and Utah) are engaged in the effort.

The 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 and improve U.S. economic competitiveness through innovative new manufacturing techniques, small business opportunities, and offer new training and jobs for American workers.

“Illinois has played a critical role in the design of the Institute and the proposal itself,” explained Magdi Azer, associate director for manufacturing science at the Illinois Applied Research Institute (ARI). “What originally started as an invitation from RIT to speak about my experiences working with the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute in Chicago has evolved into my role as the Chief Technology Officer for the Institute.” As CTO, Azer will be responsible for establishment and implementation of the REMADE technology roadmap.

Deborah Thurston
Deborah Thurston
”To make sure that we achieve a balanced portfolio of next-generatIon technologies and workforce development projects, I am fortunate to be able to draw upon the expertise of the five node leaders that will oversee the five nodes that form the REMADE Institute,” Azer said.

Deborah Thurston, a Gutsgell Professor of Industrial and Enterprise Systems Engineering, will serve as the node leader for the Design for Reuse/Disassembly node.

“Product design is where fundamental decisions get made that can either doom a product to an early grave in the landfill, or ensure a second life. What materials, component forming processes, assembly technologies and business models can help us get the most out of the energy we put into manufacturing? That is what we want to know,” said Thurston, who also directs the Decision Systems Laboratory at Illinois.

Harrison Kim
Harrison Kim
To help answer this question, Harrison Kim, a professor and Donald Biggar Willett Scholar in Industrial and Enterprise Systems Engineering, is slated to lead one of the first Institute projects, “Initial Scoping and Requirements Definition for Design for REMADE.”  This project will develop a framework for seamlessly integrating lifecycle design tools and methods with the traditional design tools currently available.

Similar to other Manufacturing USA institutes, Illinois faculty and staff will also have the opportunity to get involved as they respond to project calls that will be released each year. 

“This Institute will provide a strong platform for ARI and the University to expand research partnerships with both industry and external partners,” Azer noted.

Economic impact and workforce development

REMADE Institute partners have the following five-year goals:

  • 5 to 10 percent improvement in manufacturing material efficiency by reducing manufacturing material waste
  • 50 percent increase in remanufacturing applications
  • 30 percent increase in efficiency of remanufacturing operations
  • 30 percent increase in recycling efficiencies
  • A targeted 50 percent increase in sales for the U.S. manufacturing industry to $21.5 billion and the creation of a next-generation recycling and manufacturing workforce.

The REMADE Institute also will develop and implement an education and workforce development program that will fill workforce gaps identified by its industry, government, and academic partners and build the next generation of the recycling and remanufacturing workforce.