MIT engineers develop solutions for a cleaner future

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Production was in high summer. The Chips and Science Act, which went into effect in August, represents a massive investment in domestic manufacturing in the United States. The bill aims to substantially expand the US semiconductor industry, strengthen supply chains, and invest in research and development to achieve new technological breakthroughs. According to John Hart, professor of mechanical engineering and director of the Manufacturing and Productivity Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Chip Act is just the latest example of a notable increase in interest from manufacturers in recent years. The impact of the pandemic on supply chains, global geopolitics, and the relevance and importance of sustainable development,” Hart said. Innovations in industrial technologies. “With the growing focus on manufacturing, sustainability needs to be prioritized. About a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 come from industry and manufacturing. Factories and factories can also deplete local water supplies and produce vast amounts of waste, some of which can be toxic. To solve these problems and ensure the transition to a low-carbon economy, it is necessary to develop new products and industrial processes along with sustainable production technologies. Hart believes mechanical engineers have a critical role to play in this transitional role. “Mechanical engineers have a unique ability to solve critical problems that require next-generation hardware technologies and know how to scale their solutions,” said Hart, a professor and graduate of the MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering. Offers solutions to environmental problems, paving the way for a more sustainable future. Gradun: Cleantech Water Solutions Manufacturing needs water, and lots of it. A medium-sized semiconductor manufacturing plant uses over 10 million gallons of water per day. the world is increasingly suffering from drought.Gradiant offers solutions to this water problem.The company is headed by Anurag Bajpayee S.M. ’08 PhD ’12 and Prakash Govindan PhD ’12 co-founders and pioneers in sustainable water or “clean technology” projects. Bajpayee and Govindan, as graduate students at the Heat Transfer Laboratory named after Rosenova Kendall, share pragmatism and a penchant for action. During a severe drought in Chennai, India, Govindan developed for his PhD a humidification-dehumidification technology that mimics the natural cycle of rains. A technology they called Carrier Gas Extraction (CGE), and in 2013 the two of them founded Gradient. CGE is a proprietary algorithm that takes into account the variability in the quality and quantity of incoming wastewater. The algorithm is based on a dimensionless number, which Govindan once proposed to call the Linhard number in honor of his supervisor. the water quality in the system changes, our technology automatically sends a signal to adjust the flow rate to return the dimensionless number to 1. Once it returns to a value of 1, you will be at your best,” explained Govindan, COO of Gradiant. The system processes and treats wastewater from manufacturing plants for reuse, ultimately saving millions of dollars a year in gallons of water. As the company grew, the Gradiant team added new technologies to their arsenal, including selective pollutant extraction, an economical method of removing only certain pollutants, and a process called countercurrent reverse osmosis, their brine concentration method. They now offer a complete set of technology solutions for water treatment and wastewater for customers in industries such as pharmaceuticals, energy, mining, food and beverage, and the growing semiconductor industry. “We are a provider of total water supply solutions. We have a range of proprietary technologies and will choose from our quiver based on the needs of our customers,” said Bajpayee, CEO of Gradiant. “Customers see us as their water partner. We can solve their water problems from start to finish so they can focus on their core business. “Gradun has experienced explosive growth over the past decade. To date, they have built 450 water and wastewater treatment plants that treat the equivalent of 5 million homes a day. With recent acquisitions, the total headcount has grown to over 500 people. The solutions are reflected in their customers, which include Pfizer, Anheuser-Busch InBev and Coca-Cola. Their clients also include semiconductor giants such as Micron Technology, GlobalFoundries, Intel and TSMC.” wastewater and ultrapure water for semiconductors have really gone up,” Bajpayee said. Semiconductor manufacturers require ultrapure water to produce water. The total dissolved solids compared to drinking water is a few parts per million. Unlike the former, the amount of water used to microchip manufacturing is between parts per billion or parts per quadrillion.Currently, the average recycling rate in a semiconductor manufacturing plant (or factory) in Singapore is only 43%.Using Ge C our technology, these factories can recycle 98-99% of “The 10 million gallons of water they need per unit of production. This recycled water is clean enough to go back into the manufacturing process.” We have eliminated this polluted water discharge, virtually eliminating the semiconductor plant’s reliance on public water supplies.” Bajpayee In, fabry ci are under increasing pressure to improve their water use, making sustainability critical. to more US plants through separation: efficient chemical filtration such as Bajpayee and Govindan, Shreya Dave ’09, SM ’12, PhD ’16 focused on desalination for her PhD. Under the guidance of his advisor, Jeffrey Grossman, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Dave fabricated a membrane that could provide more efficient and cheaper desalination. After careful cost and market analysis, Dave concluded that her desalination membranes could not be commercialized. “Modern technologies are really good at what they do. do. They are cheap, mass-produced, and work very well. There was no market for our technology,” Dave said. Shortly after defending her dissertation, she read a review article in the journal Nature that changed everything. The article identified the problem. Chemical separation, which is at the heart of many industrial processes, requires a lot of energy. The industry needs more efficient and less expensive membranes. Dave thought she might have a solution. After identifying that there were economic opportunities, Dave, Grossman, and Brent Keller, PhD ’16, created Via Separations in 2017. Shortly thereafter, they chose Engine as one of the first companies to receive venture capital funding from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Currently, industrial filtration is carried out by heating chemicals at very high temperatures to separate compounds. Dave likens it to boiling all the water until it evaporates to make pasta and what’s left is spaghetti. In production, this chemical separation method is energy intensive and inefficient. Via Separations has created the chemical equivalent of “pasta filter” products. Instead of using heat to separate, their membranes “filter” the compounds. This chemical filtration method consumes 90% less energy than standard methods. While most membranes are made from polymers, Via Separations membranes are made from oxidized graphene, which can withstand high temperatures and harsh environments. The membrane is calibrated to customer needs by changing the pore size and surface chemistry tuning. Currently, Dave and her team are focusing on the pulp and paper industry as their foothold. They have developed a system that recycles a substance known as “black liquor” more energy-efficiently. paper, only one third of the biomass is used for paper. Right now, the most valuable use of the remaining two-thirds of the waste paper is to use an evaporator to boil water, turning it from a very dilute stream to a very concentrated stream,” Dave said. the energy produced is used to power the filtration process.” This closed system consumes a lot of energy in the United States. We can do this by placing a “spaghetti net” in the cauldron, Dave adds. VulcanForms: Industrial Scale Additive Manufacturing He teaches a course on 3D printing, better known as Additive Manufacturing (AM). Although it was not his main focus at the time, he focused on research, but he found the topic fascinating. As did many students in the class, including Martin Feldmann MEng ’14. Feldmann joined Hart’s research group full-time after receiving a master’s degree in advanced manufacturing. There they bonded over a mutual interest in AM. They saw an opportunity to innovate using a proven additive metal manufacturing technology known as powder bed laser welding and proposed to bring the concept of additive metal manufacturing to an industrial scale. In 2015 they founded VulcanForms. “We have developed the AM Machine Architecture to produce parts of exceptional quality and productivity,” Hart said. “And we. Our machines have been integrated into a fully digital manufacturing system combining additive manufacturing, post-processing and precision machining. “Unlike other companies that sell 3D printers to others to make parts, VulcanForms uses its fleet of vehicles to make and sell industrial machine parts to customers. VulcanForms has grown to almost 400 employees. The team opened its first production last year. venture called “VulcanOne”. The quality and precision of parts produced by VulcanForms is critical for products such as medical implants, heat exchangers and aircraft engines. Their machines can print thin layers of metal. “We produce parts that are difficult to manufacture or, in some cases, impossible to manufacture,” added Hart, a member of the company’s board of directors. The technology developed by VulcanForms can help produce parts and products in a more sustainable way, either directly through an additive process, or indirectly through a more efficient and flexible supply chain.One of the ways VulcanForms and AM as a whole contribute to sustainability is through material savings.Many of the materials used in VulcanForms, such as titanium alloys, require a lot of energy. a titanium part, you use far less material than traditional machining processes. Material efficiency is where Hart sees AM making a huge difference in terms of energy savings. Hart also points out that AM can accelerate innovation in clean energy technologies , from more efficient jet engines to future fusion reactors in. “Companies looking to reduce risk and scale clean energy technologies require expertise and access to advanced manufacturing capabilities, and industrial additive manufacturing is transformative in this regard,” Hart adds. Product: Friction. Mechanical engineering professor Kripa Varanasi and the LiquiGlide team are committed to creating a frictionless future and significantly reducing waste in the process. Founded in 2012 by Varanasi and alumnus David Smith SM ’11, LiquiGlide has developed specialty coatings that allow liquids to “slide” over surfaces. Every drop of product goes to use, whether it is squeezed from a tube of toothpaste or drained from a 500 liter jar at the factory. Friction-free containers drastically reduce product waste, and there is no need to clean containers before recycling or reuse. the company has made great strides in the consumer products sector. A Colgate client used LiquiGlide technology in the design of a bottle of Colgate Elixir toothpaste, which has won several industry design awards. LiquiGlide has partnered with world-renowned designer Yves Behar to apply their technology to beauty and personal product packaging hygiene. At the same time, the US Food and Drug Administration provided them with a master device. Biopharmaceutical applications create opportunities. In 2016, the company developed a system that makes friction-free container production. surface treatment of storage tanks, funnels and hoppers, preventing material from sticking to the walls. The system can reduce material waste by up to 99%. “This could really be a game changer. It saves product waste, reduces wastewater from tank cleaning, and helps make the manufacturing process waste-free,” said Varanasi, chairman of LiquiGlide. container surface. When applied to a container, the lubricant is still absorbed into the texture. Capillary forces stabilize and allow the liquid to spread over the surface, creating a permanently lubricated surface on which any viscous material can slide. The company uses thermodynamic algorithms to determine the safe combinations of solids and liquids depending on the product, whether it’s toothpaste or paint. The company has built a robotic spray system that can handle containers and tanks in the factory. In addition to saving the company millions of dollars in product waste, LiquiGlide significantly reduces the amount of water needed to regularly clean these containers where product often sticks to the walls. Requires cleaning with plenty of water. For example, in agrochemistry, there are strict rules for the disposal of the resulting toxic wastewater. All of this can be eliminated with LiquiGlide,” Varanasi said. While many manufacturing plants closed early in the pandemic, slowing down the rollout of CleanTanX pilot projects at factories, the situation has improved in recent months. Varanasi is seeing a growing demand for LiquiGlide technology, especially for liquids such as semiconductor pastes. Companies such as Gradant, Via Separations, VulcanForms and LiquiGlide are proving that expanding production doesn’t have to come at a steep environmental cost. Manufacturing has the potential to scale sustainably.” mechanical engineers, manufacturing has always been the core of our work. In particular, at MIT, there has always been a commitment to making manufacturing sustainable,” said Evelyn Wang, Ford professor of engineering and former chair of the mechanical engineering department. our planet is beautiful. “With laws like CHIPS and the Science Act stimulating manufacturing, there will be a growing demand for start-ups and companies that develop solutions that mitigate environmental impact, bringing us closer to a more sustainable future.
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Post time: Jan-06-2023
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