USACA has refined its efforts regarding the development
of opportunities for advanced ceramics in alternative energy applications.
In 2004, the U.S. Advanced Ceramics Association (USACA)
developed three initiatives-the Advanced Ceramics Technology Transition
Initiative for Defense, the Ceramic Materials for Energy Independence
Initiative, and the Ultra-High-Temperature Ceramics Initiative for Defense and
Aerospace. Since that time, concerns regarding the ever-increasing costs of
energy and the uncertainty of energy sources have escalated.
In fact, according to the recent Labor Day
from the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM),
escalating energy costs have resulted in a decrease in workers' incomes.
"Over the past year, energy prices have risen 23% due to increased global
demand, limited domestic supplies, natural disasters and global
instability," says John Engler, NAW president. "As a result, real
wages have fallen by 0.5% over the past year when they should have gone up by
government has taken some action. The Energy Policy Act of 2005, which was
signed into law in August of that year, promoted investments in energy
conservation and efficiency by supporting the development of new
energy-efficient technologies. In addition, in his January 2006 State of the
Union address, President Bush outlined the Advanced Energy Initiative, which
aims to increase research on energy-efficient technology for homes/ businesses
and automobiles. The Initiative calls for a 22% increase in U.S. Department of
Energy (DOE) spending on clean-energy research. (The U.S. has spent almost $10 billion
on alternative energy development since 2001.)
According to Frank Kuchinski, Ph.D., director of
materials at Extreme Composite Products, Inc. and USACA's director of
government programs, the increased government focus on the importance of energy
coincided with USACA's realization that a sharper focus could better benefit
the industry. "Trying to tell three different stories around these three
different initiatives watered down our message," he says. "Energy is
becoming increasingly important for us as a country, and USACA began to
formulate the more unifying single message that advanced ceramics could lead to
energy independence and better security for our country."
USACA has subsequently refocused the original three
initiatives into one-the National Advanced Ceramics Technology Transition
Initiative (NACTTI): Accelerating Product Validation and Manufacturing
Readiness for Energy Dependence. Targeted for initial funding in 2008, the new
initiative will focus on ways in which advanced ceramics can have a positive
impact on U.S.
energy independence and security.
USACA envisions a five-year, $100 million program with
multiple energy product goals, including:
- Higher-temperature turbines for power
generation and vehicle (air and ground) propulsion
- High-temperature gas separation technologies
for utilizing U.S.
coal reserves with carbon capture and management
- High-temperature fuel cells for electric
generation using hydrogen and coal gasification products
- Clean coal technologies for combusting and
gasifying coal at higher temperatures with greater efficiency and reduced
- Advanced nuclear fuels and structural materials
that improve the efficiency of nuclear power and enable new high-temperature reactors
for hydrogen production
- New glass ceramics for photovoltaic
- Diesel engine and truck components, including
exhaust treatment components for reduced emissions and improved fuel
"Many of the fundamental technologies have been
developed that can be useful, but there's a necessity for testing and
evaluation in very specific applications," says Kuchinski. "The costs
and risks associated with testing are usually so great that no particular user
in industry wants to take on the task alone. We are encouraging the government
to combine its resources for testing and evaluation with industry's resources
for the manufacture/production of the prototypes and components."
In support of NACTTI, USACA has identified several key
- Increased U.S.
competitiveness in advanced ceramic materials, thus reversing the trend toward
foreign commercial development of U.S. technologies and
- Development and retention of U.S. jobs for new product
- Substantial reduction in energy consumption and
carbon emissions in markets served by the target products over the next 20
- Significant reduction in the normal 15- to
20-year product development and introduction cycle for advanced
- Achievement of military and aerospace
objectives through the coordinated application of these advanced materials in
personnel body armor, leading edges of hypersonic and surveillance aircraft,
and other mission-critical requirements
Developing a Framework
USACA has gathered information from available scientific
literature, the Internet, and personal interviews to solidify the details of
the initiative and develop more specific targets and benefits. The goal is to
have a framework in place by January 2007.
"We are bringing together data to convert those
general targets and benefits into projected, measurable items. For example, we
need to be able to tell the government, 'If you invest $100 in government funds
over the next five years, it will create X number of American jobs, or save
jobs, or reduce energy consumption by X%,'" explains Kuchinski. "We
are planning to go to members of Congress and ask them to help support the
initiative financially, so we need to provide them with measured, quantitative
The association also held a briefing on "Ceramics
and Security: The Role of Advanced Materials in Energy, Defense and
International Trade" on Capitol Hill in September 2006. A summary of the
briefing is available on the USACA website.
Making a Difference
Once the framework is finalized, USACA will work
aggressively to push it forward, not only within the government, but in the
scientific community as well. "Through presentations, conferences and
speaking engagements, we will provide useful, well-documented information
that's been generated by USACA," says Kuchinski. "We can deliver
details that will be met with more credibility than an individual company,
which could be viewed as making a marketing pitch."
As the largest consumer of energy in the country-and the
major potential investor in NACTTI-the U.S. government could be considered
the ultimate customer. USACA has begun the process of communicating with key
committee members and others within both the House and Senate to create
interest and increase awareness of the many benefits advanced ceramics can
offer to help address the country's energy concerns.
"This is part of what USACA's always done, taking
the issues, objectives, goals and benefits of industry-particularly the ceramic
industry-to the decision makers," says Kuchinski. "We've begun the
process of educating the government and telling them we're developing ideas
that could help the country. As more specific and quantitative information
develops, we'll continue to bring that information to them."
For more information regarding NACTTI, contact
USACA at 1800 M St., N.W., Suite 300, Washington, D.C. 20036-5802; (202)
293-6253; fax (202) 223-5537; e-mail email@example.com;
or visit www.advancedceramics.org.
full Labor Day Report is available at www.nam.org/labordayreport.
SIDEBAR: USACA Membership
USACA members play an important role in determining the
direction of the organization's efforts. The association holds two board
meetings per year, in the spring and fall, and most of the membership also
attends the annual International Cocoa Beach Conference & Exposition on
Advanced Ceramics and Composites. "We formally come together as a USACA
organization and have various face-to-face meetings and dialogues at least
those three times each year," says Kuchinski. Members also participate
through workshops, teleconferences and e-mail exchanges in smaller groups on an
A list of current members is included here, and, like
most organizations, USACA continually strives to expand its ranks. Membership
details and an online application form are available at www.advancedceramics.org
- COI Ceramics, Inc.
- Deere & Co.
- GE Energy
- Goodrich Corp.
- Saint-Gobain High Performance Materials
- UT-Battelle, represented by Oak Ridge National
- Ceramic Tubular Products, LLC
- Extreme Composite Products, Inc.
- KiON Defense Technologies, Inc.
- KiON Specialty Polymers (A Clariant
- Refractron Technologies Corp.
- Starfire Systems, Inc.
- Surmet Corp.
- Synterials, Inc.
Center for Defense
Manufacturing and Machining