Enabling Greater Materials Recycling, Recovery, Remanufacturing, and Reuse

Client: REMADE Institute

Nexight Group helped the REMADE Institute—a Manufacturing USA Institute co-funded by the U.S. Department of Energy—develop a roadmap of the early-stage applied research and development of technologies needed to reduce embodied energy and carbon emissions associated with industrial-scale manufacturing.

Need

Today, manufacturing accounts for 25 percent of U.S. energy consumption. With improvements in materials production and processing, the United States could significantly increase manufacturing energy efficiency, which could also yield substantial economic savings.

However, the current state of materials manufacturing technologies, tools, methods, and processes presents a number of challenges:

  • Current products are generally not designed with the recovery, reuse, remanufacturing, and recycling (collectively referred to as Re-X) of metals, fibers, polymers, and electronic waste in mind
  • Manufacturing processes are not optimized for in-plant scrap reuse or the use of lower-embodied-energy alternative feedstocks
  • At product end-of-life, there is a lack of reliable tools for assessing product condition and potential for Re-X
  • Current methods for collecting, characterizing, sorting, separating, cleaning, and reprocessing materials can make Re-X efforts too energy-intensive and cost-prohibitive

Our Solution

To help REMADE define a strategy to address these challenges, Nexight Group facilitated a three-day Technology Roadmapping Workshop for REMADE that included more than 80 participants from industry, academia, national laboratories, and trade associations. During the workshop, the participants defined the desired future state of the industry, challenges preventing industry from achieving the desired future state, and high-level research activities to address them.

Nexight then used the results of this workshop—coupled with additional inputs from surveys, subject matter expert interviews, and a literature review—to help REMADE leadership categorize and prioritize R&D activities within each of its five nodes, or focus areas, as well as develop a framework of cross-cutting themes that allow the nodes to work collaboratively and in parallel to maximize the value of REMADE’s efforts. The resulting roadmap cohesively illustrates the strategy in one summary graphic, together with the desired future state, distinct challenges that must be overcome, and the priority R&D activities and milestones that will allow REMADE to achieve its goals while supporting the needs of its membership.

Impact

The roadmap was published in early 2018, at which time REMADE immediately began implementing the research priorities from the roadmap via two project calls and requests for projects. The funded projects represent the most impactful development opportunities that will ultimately motivate subsequent industry investments required to improve Re-X across the U.S. manufacturing ecosystem.