With the sweeping changes planned for the nation’s generation and consumption of power, energy efficiency is considered to hold some of the greatest potential for a large-scale impact.

Seeing that potential, the Obama administration has made efficiency one of the cornerstones of its energy-policy agenda and has invested no small amount of federal dollars to support its goals.
Toward that end, in May, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the Industrial Energy Efficiency Grand Challenge award of $13 million in matching grants for research and development of “transformational processes and technologies.” Recognizing the huge slice of the nation’s energy pie that industry consumes, and the almost equally large proportion of greenhouse gases it emits, the awards specifically target projects that will improve efficiency in the industrial sector.

The DOE selected projects that fall into one of four categories. Next-generation manufacturing concepts reduce the energy intensity or greenhouse gas emissions of industrial systems by a minimum of 25 percent. Energy-intensive processes address specific technology areas that are expected to generate significant energy savings across a variety of industries. Advanced material research examines energy-saving materials that are heat- and degradation-resistant. Industrial greenhouse gas emission projects favor transformational technologies that can reduce the intensity and the absolute output of carbon.
The 48 projects that were selected will receive more than $5 million in private industry funding to match the $13 million in federal grants, for a total of $18 million in funding.

The awards will go to projects in Alabama, California, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.

The Grand Challenge focuses on improving efficiency in the industrial sector because industry accounts for more than 30 percent of national energy consumption. It is responsible for 27 percent of the nation’s carbon emissions and supports nearly 13 million manufacturing jobs.