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August 30, 2018

UW-Madison, Argonne partner on advanced manufacturing technologies, entrepreneurship

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Through its Grainger Institute for Engineering, the University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Engineering and Argonne National Laboratory are partnering on ways to accelerate technology development that fuels growth in the $1.2 trillion manufacturing sector, while also aiming to facilitate a broad portfolio of research shared between the two institutions.

“The collaboration between UW-Madison and Argonne National Laboratory will provide an impactful technical partnership on societal needs, including energy, sustainability, materials discovery and advanced manufacturing. The proximity of the university to the laboratory will permit strong personal interactions,” says Ian Robertson, Grainger Dean of the College of Engineering.

The college and Argonne will leverage complementary expertise. Three important thrust areas for Argonne—its grid program, nuclear science and engineering, and manufacturing science and engineering—join forces in this collaboration. They will partner with the college in developing and testing advanced materials, nuclear engineering and power grid research, and in developing new processes for making manufacturing more energy-efficient and sustainable.

Manufacturing accounts for roughly 25 percent of U.S. energy consumption and generates 12 percent of U.S. gross domestic product. New highly functionalized materials, chemistries and devices that can be manufactured at scale can open up new sources of energy and product lines.

Argonne has launched a lab-wide manufacturing science and engineering initiative to capitalize on unique strengths in materials and chemistry, X-ray science and advanced computing to build breakthrough technologies. In addition, Argonne’s grid program investigates future technologies, including micro and macro electric smart grids with integrated energy storage devices; advanced transportation systems with energy interoperability solutions; and nuclear energy systems that are safe, resilient and cost-effective.

“To ensure that the next generation of advanced technologies and energy materials are manufactured in the U.S., national laboratories and universities need to partner to build the next generation workforce and new technologies in our own backyard,” says Santanu Chaudhuri, director of Manufacturing Science and Engineering at Argonne. “UW-Madison will bring to Argonne a proven track record of training top-tier engineers and developing entrepreneurs that want to launch cleantech, materials and energy-based startups in the Midwest.”

The partnership with UW-Madison also aims to increase the number of scientists, engineers and students that will collaborate with Argonne at its new Midwest manufacturing science facility. UW-Madison faculty and students will work with technical leaders in grid technology and nuclear engineering.

The partnership is a win-win. “The Grainger Institute for Engineering and Argonne National Laboratory are working together on defined initiatives that draw upon complementary technology,” says Dan Thoma, director of the Grainger Institute for Engineering, which is part of the College of Engineering at UW-Madison. “Joint research with a local, premier national laboratory will provide multiple opportunities for collaboration to promote technical advancements.”

Argonne and UW-Madison also plan to launch pilot projects for UW-Madison entrepreneurs and researchers looking to grow technologies and to leverage Argonne’s unique set of research tools, including:

  • The nation’s highest-energy X-ray source, the Advanced Photon Source, for materials characterization,
  • High performance computing at the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility
  • The Center for Nanoscale Materials,
  • The Materials Engineering Research Facility, a Department of Energy facility to enable the conversion of laboratory bench-top discoveries to economically viable commercial-scale production levels.