KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A Knoxville-based institute is the first clean energy institute to be renewed by the U.S. Department of Energy according to a release.

The Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI) released on Tuesday the DOE will give the institute federal funding across the next five years. This builds off the initial $70 million funding for the institute from the DOE, along with over $180 million from IACMI’s member partners.

The first year investment will be $6 million to further “technological R&D” and “accelerate commercialization in the domestic composites manufacturing sector.”

The announcement was made on Tuesday with state and local officials in attendance. An earlier release said University of Tennessee President Randy Boyd, University of Tennessee Knoxville Chancellor Donde Plowman, ORNL Deputy for Science and Technology Susan Hubbard, and IACMI CEO Chad Duty were expected to be in attendance.

“IACMI is living, breathing proof that when we connect our nation’s leading experts across the manufacturing value chain to listen, learn, and share ideas and best practices, we can have a big impact,” said DOE’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Alejandro Moreno. “The Department is committed to seeing how IACMI will continue to leverage that collaborative spirit into actionable and innovative progress as our partnership continues.”

The institute was established in 2015, and since then, it has:

  • Managed more than 60 collaborative and industry-led technical projects, representing more than $200 million in R&D investment
  • Catalyzed over 25 new composite-based products to commercialization
  • Supported the creation of 3,000 jobs at composite materials and parts manufacturers
  • Spurred investment of $75 million in five states for R&D and Scale Up Facilities

While the release states that IACMI is the first clean energy institute to be renewed by the U.S. Department of Energy, it also says it is one of 16 national Manufacturing USA institutes established to catalyze advanced manufacturing and materials applications and the first to receive a second round of funding from the DOE. 

One notable contribution from IACMI is how it helped Volkswagen of America redesign a liftgate for the VW Atlas with Composites, which reduced its weight by 35 percent and reduced cost by nine percent, the release states. IACMI explains that composite materials are, “durable, stronger than concrete, lightweight, corrosion resistant, temperature tolerant, and have a relatively low life-cycle carbon footprint.”