UMass Amherst Receives Grant to Promote Energy Efficiency in Industry

AMHERST, Mass. - The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded a $100,000 grant to the National Environmental Technology Institute (NETI) and the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (CEERE) at the University of Massachusetts to continue development of the Massachusetts Industries of the Future (IOF) program. The purpose of the program is to help industries develop technologies to improve their energy and raw material use, and reduce pollution and waste, yet maintain efficient production.

With prior DOE funding, NETI and CEERE have been working with the Northeast Regional Collaborative, which includes members from New York and all six New England states, to identify the key manufacturing industries in the region. This new award will be used to begin the process of working with key industries based in Massachusetts, with the help of a special working group of industry leaders, state agencies, and the University, to be set up by NETI.

Chad Nelson, director of NETI, says, "Through the IOF program, we want to help local companies think out of the box, so they can plan ahead 20 years. Usually, it''s only universities that look that far ahead, but in this case, the University of Massachusetts will share its technical expertise to help some of the leaders of the most important industries in the commonwealth think differently about what they do and how they do it."

Key leaders of the priority industries will be invited to participate in the official kickoff event for the Massachusetts IOF program on September 15 in Worcester. Those attending will include key state policymakers and elected officials, representatives of trade and professional organizations, chief executive officers of established and emerging companies, as well as DOE and University team members. Leaders will be invited from the region''s chemical and plastics, printing, pulp and paper, metalcasting, instruments, information, and communications industries. Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass) has been invited to give the keynote address.

"We will ask company representatives and elected officials what it will take to keep these industries operating for another 20 years or more. Through the IOF program, we will identify some of the technical and environmental challenges they can expect to face, and, together, we can determine ways to help them survive the changes ahead," Nelson explains.

"The DOE hopes this program will forge a long-lasting collaboration among industry clusters, research organizations, regulators, and policymakers," Nelson says. "These groups should be able to produce their own roadmap to the future, so they can tie into state and federal initiatives. The DOE wants the state''s commitment to improve energy efficiency and reduce pollution to last for many years, long after DOE money has stopped."

NETI was established by an act of the Massachusetts Legislature in 1994 with key support from the Massachusetts Chemical Technology Alliance. It is one of the University''s "emerging technology" centers that participate in the Strategic Envirotechnology Partnership between UMass and the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs.

NETI focuses on the design and modification of processes and materials "upstream" to minimize pollution prior to ultimate treatment and disposal. Projects involve UMass researchers from diverse departments and disciplines including chemical engineering, polymer science and engineering, chemistry, mechanical and industrial engineering, electrical and computer engineering, and public health and health sciences; and industry partners from large and small companies located in Massachusetts and nationwide. NETI''s goal is to become a national leader in pollution prevention research, development, and technology transfer.

CEERE is based within the mechanical and industrial engineering department of the College of Engineering. Among its many programs, CEERE''s Industrial Assessment Center has provided a number of New England industries with technical assistance in identifying and reducing energy use, operational waste, and productivity barriers in their manufacturing operations.

Chad Nelson can be reached at 413/545-2842 or cnelson@tei.umass.edu after July 14.

Larry Ambs of CEERE can be reached at 413/545-2539 or ambs@ecs.umass.edu. Additional information on NETI is available at http://www.umass.edu/tei/neti.