Diran Apelian Tapped to Chair National Blue Ribbon Panel on Materials and Energy

Commissioned by the Department of Energy, the Panel Will Explore How Breakthroughs in Materials and Materials Processes Can Help Meet National Energy and Climate Goals
March 08, 2010

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Diran Apelian, Howmet Professor of Mechanical Engineering at WPI and director of the Institute's Metal Processing Institute, has been selected to chair a national blue ribbon panel that will help identify ways that breakthroughs in materials and materials processes could lead to energy efficiency, energy security, and reductions in carbon emissions. Commissioned by the U.S. Department of Energy Industrial Technologies Program and led by the Minerals, Metals & Materials Society (TMS), the panel consists of 21 thought leaders in materials science and engineering who represent academia, industry, and government.

The Energy Materials Blue Ribbon Panel will explore the role that materials science and engineering can play in helping the nation meet its energy and climate challenges, Apelian said. "We need to clearly identify the opportunities and solutions for materials science and engineering in the energy sector to transform the 'way we do it now,'" Apelian told JOM, the TMS journal.

The panel held its initial meeting in February at which it identified areas where materials science and engineering have the greatest potential to contribute to breakthroughs in energy sources, energy carriers and storage, and energy use. In particular, the panel focused on ways that computational materials science and engineering can accelerate the development of new materials and processes. The panel is expected to release a preliminary summary of its findings in April and a full vision report in late May. The report will be shared with the public in a hearing in Washington, D.C., in June and disseminated widely thorough TMS and other channels.

The blue ribbon panel report will become the foundation for the second part of a yearlong project led by TMS that will culminate with the appointment of four technical working groups that will work to identify and prioritize critical research and development needed to address the panel's recommendations. A final report describing the highest impact research and development areas identified by the working groups will be prepared by the end of 2010. The work of the blue ribbon panel and working groups will assist DOE in launching two new university-led Manufacturing Energy Systems Centers, which are intended to accelerate the development and dissemination of knowledge related to critical technical needs in manufacturing.

The centers are designed "to dramatically accelerate our progress toward a low-carbon economy by compressing the time it takes for innovation to go from pure science through engineering and finally to production, where it can have a real impact on our daily lives," Douglas Kaempf, program manager for the DOE Industrial Technologies Program, told JOM.