RAMP Projects

Manufacturing Modeling Tools for Domestic Energy Storage Production: Process Based Cost Modeling

Faculty:PI: Jay Whitacre MSE/EPP
Co-PIs: Jeremy Michalek ME/EPP, Erica Fuches EPP Carnegie Mellon University
Industry Affiliate: Aquion Energy, Inc
Summary:This project is focused on developing and analyzing a detailed and accurate manufacturing cost model tool for energy storage technologies with the express intent of aiding Aquion Energy as it designs and scales its manufacturing plant in Western PA. Specifically, process based cost models from various battery technologies such as Li-ion will be created and compared to a similar model developed for Aquion. The modeling to be conducted will allow both for cost optimization as well as offer insights into the competitive world of energy storage technologies. Understanding these aspects the manufacturing project will both result in meaningful scholarly work as well as provide needed insight to a growing Pennsylvania manufacturing company. The technology developed for Aquion during the course of this work is not a product, but is rather a tool that can be used for economic and strategic planning. However, as such, significant advantages can be imagined from the proposed results, and as such the key charter of the RAMP funding will be met.

Characterization of Induction-Heat Treated Alloy Components for Beam, Rod, and Bar Mills in Steel Manufacturing

Faculty:PI: Sridhar Seetharaman MSE
Co-PIs: Yoosuf Picard MSE Carnegie Mellon University
Industry Affiliate: MCC International, Inc
Summary:Induction heating of consumable components for steel manufacturing rolling mills provides advantages in energy efficiency, environmental benefits and an opportunity for lean manufacturing when compared to traditional gas heated furnaces. However, a major issue to be determined is whether the product quality in terms of micro-structure (grain size) and residual stress is maintained despite the differences in thermal conditions between induction and conventional heating. This project will involve: (i) Characterization of industrially manufactured parts, (ii) characterization of the thermal history of the two processes and (iii) develop an understanding of if/how the thermal fields during induction heating alters the product micro-structure.

Streamlining production of plasma-based biomaterials- increasing pasteurization efficiencies

Faculty:PI: Phil Campbell ICES
Co-PIs: Lee Weiss Robotics Institute Carnegie Mellon University
Industry Affiliate: Carmell Therapeutics Corp
Summary:Carmell Therapeutics has pioneered the development of a manufacturing process to make blood plasma-based biomaterials(PBMs), which can be thought of as bioresorbable bioplastics, with tunable mechanical properties and degradation times, in controlled 3D shapes, while maintaining biological activities innate to the plasma sourced materiaL. Sterilization of PBMs is critical to the manufacture of Carmell PBM products in order to guard against possible pathogens in the sourced blood plasma being undetected by standard FDA approved procedures. As part of the manufacturing process, pasteurization of clotted platelet-rich plasma is used as a primary sterilization technique, but the lengthy processing time involved with the current pasteurizer represents a major roadblock to scale-up of production. In addition, We propose to develop a pasteurization process resulting in -40% reduction in process time, with the added benefits of providing for a more consistent product and maximizing inherent biological activity.

Incandescent to LED: Feasibility of low cost retrofitting of incandescent facilities for manufacturing LED light bulbs

Faculty:PI: Burak Ozdoganlar MechE Carnegie Mellon University

A Platform for Evaluation of Direct Metal Additive Manufacturing Processes by Industry

Faculty:PI: Jack Beuth MechE Carnegie Mellon University
Industry Affiliate: Kennametal, Inc., 1600 Technology Way, Latrobe, PA 15650-0231
Summary:Direct metal additive manufacturing (AM) has made significant progress in achieving the goal of directly “printing” generic 3-D parts from CAD models. However, there are currently many competing direct metal AM processes to choose from, each with its own advantages and disadvantages with respect to technical metrics such as geometric accuracy, build rate, and part size. Companies such as Kennametal, a highly successful metals manufacturing and processing company headquartered in Latrobe, PA, are faced with a complex task in matching available direct metal AM processes to their diverse processing needs.

This project will leverage three unique contributions by its participants to offer a first-of-its-kind platform for technical comparison across current direct metal AM processes to guide companies like Kennametal in choosing AM processes. First, Kennametal will provide metrics that they consider essential in evaluating the value of direct metal AM processes. Second, the PI J. Beuth will adapt his “process map” approach for modeling and understanding additive manufacturing processes across process variable space to quantify the ability of existing AM processes to achieve goals defined by such metrics. Third, through existing and proposed research collaborations with the PI J. Beuth, access will be given to three widely varying and successful direct metal AM processes.

The outcome of this project will be a verified platform for in-depth technical comparison of direct metal AM processes across a wide range of process variables and capabilities, tied to industry-defined process quality metrics. This project will also provide a template for evaluating the technical capabilities of other direct metal AM processes, such as those being considered for study within the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII). It will also lay the groundwork for a collaborative effort with another CMU researcher to combine economic and technical metrics for comparing AM processes.

Improving the Powder Spreading Process in Three-Dimensional Metal Printing

Faculty:PI: C.Fred Higgs MechE Carnegie Mellon University
Industry Affiliate: ExOne, LLC
Summary:The next-generation of American manufacturing will be comprised of innovation-based technologies that produce parts faster, cheaper, yet while expending less energy. This work proposes to research and develop an optimal spreading and compaction process for metal powders in an additive manufacturing (i.e., three-dimensional printing) process. An internationally-recognized research group in particulate flow and tribology at Carnegie Mellon University, i.e., “CMU”, (in Pittsburgh, PA.) is collaborating with ExOne (in North Huntingdon, PA), a small, global, Pennsylvania-based advanced manufacturing company to improve the material properties of parts made from additive manufacturing. Current metal parts produced by ExOne have strength limitations primarily due to the large amount of porosity in the materials after sintering. To combat this, ExOne typically infiltrates the remaining void space with bronze in a thermal-induced flow process. While the final matrix material produced has good utility in a number of applications, there are other applications where nearly void-free materials are desired to achieve higher strength. One of the easiest ways to decrease the void fraction is to reduce the powder size and increase the packing density. Currently the smallest particles ExOne printers can print are 30 microns. This limitation is primarily due to their ability to spread fine powders uniformly. Therefore, this RAMP effort proposes the formation of an industry-university collaboration to develop a computational modeling and experimental framework to study, predict, and optimize the ExOne recoater powder spreading process. The collaborative components of this effort consist of computational modeling and design at CMU, experiments at ExOne, and finally student internship(s) aimed at accelerating technology development while stimulating participating students to remain in PA’s next-generation manufacturing workforce.

Robotics enhanced cost effective motion test equipment for inertial MEMS devise

Faculty:PI: Siddartha Srinivasa Robotics Institute
Co-PIs: David Bourne Robotics Carnegie Mellon University
Industry Affiliate: Acutronic, Inc
Summary:Development of an end-to-end prototype motion test system for inertial MEMS devices that will be an innovative way of testing by lowering the cost and time of testing significantly. Traditionally ACUTRONIC is in the business of providing highly precise expensive test equipment that tests large traditional Inertial measurement units (IMU) which are manually loaded and require long test cycles. It is the objective to migrate this knowledge to the MEMS inertial commodity market where a large volume of MEMS IMU’s are tested in parallel without human intervention and in a much shorter time.

The project would include the automated loading/placing of the device on a carrier, the electromechanical test station incl temperature testing, the electrical connection to the devices, the data acquisition as well as the unloading and sorting/binning capability.

The objective is to come up with a solution that reduces the set up and test time as well as the test equipment cost.

Supercritical and Liquid Carbon Dioxide as Refrigerant or Heat Transfer Liquid in Chemical and Pharmaceutical Manufacturing

Faculty:PI: James Hsu, Department of Chemical Engineering, Lehigh University
Industry Affiliate: Dyanalene Inc; Supercritical Solutions LLC
Summary:A supercritical fluid is any substance at a temperature and pressure above its critical point, where distinct liquid and gas phases do not exist. Supercritical fluids have properties between those of a gas and a liquid. Close to critical point, small changes in pressure or temperature result in large changes in density, allowing many properties of a supercritical fluid to be fine-tuned. Supercritical carbon dioxide behaves as a supercritical fluid above its critical temperature (31.1 C) and critical pressure (72.9 atm). Supercritical carbon dioxide can be an excellent refrigerant or heat transfer liquid because of its non-toxic and non-flammable properties. In this project supercritical carbon dioxide will be developed as an important emerging refrigerant or heat transfer liquid for large scale industrial applications in chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturing. By varying the temperature and pressure based on its propertes in supercritical state, subcritical liquid state, and vapor-compression refrigeration cycle, supercritical carbon dioxide can transfer the energy both for cooling and/or heating. Supercritical carbon dioxide as refrigerant or heat transfer liquid can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by half comparing to the gas boiler system. It also can reduce the operating costs for heating and/ or cooling significantly.

Scalable Synthesis of Biosurfactants for Enhanced Drug Delivery

Faculty:PI: Bryan Berger, Department of Chemical Engineering, Lehigh University
Industry Affiliate: Particle Sciences
Summary:It is estimated that approximately 50-60% of all currently developed drugs fail in preclinical evaluation due to poor drug physicochemical properties, particularly low solubility, which often leads to reduced bioavailability. While current synthetic surfactants such sa Tween 80 are inexpensive, available at bulk scale, and effective in some instances in drug solubilization, there is also a potential for adverse anaphylactic reactions. Therefore considerable research is aimed at developing alternative, biocompatible surfactants to reduce or replace use of synthetic surfactants. Protein-based surfactants (i.e., biosurfactants) have the potential advantages of high biocompatibility, scalable synthesis through direct fermentation to reduce production costs, and an ability to engineering specific properties through genetic engineering to improve bioavailability. We have developed a high-yield system for scalable, recombinant production of biosurfactant that addresses both the challenges of (1) genetic control over biosurfactant structure and (2) high-yield, low-cost biosynthesis. This proposal will focus on two specific aims: (1) developing a forward selection system to tailor biosurfactants to a specific insoluble drug and (2) implementing our high-yield, scalable synthesis method for biosurfactant overproduction. We expect the results of this work to lead to large-scale implementation of biosurfactants in drug formulation, and provide insight into how biosurfactant structure influences drug solubilization.

Piezoelectric Energy Harvesting using High Performance Relaxor-PT Single Crystals

Faculty:PI: Shujun Zhang, Department of Materials Science, The Pennsylvania State University
Industry Affiliate: TRS Technologies, Inc.
Summary:Proposes to develop a wideband, low frequency energy harvesting technology from single crystal piezoelectrics to form a basis for small, low cost devices for use on industrial equipment, automobiles, appliances and other mechanical systems. The innovation of this smart material is not only the high energy density of conventional materials, but that newly discovered shear resonance modes exist which can be used in conjunction with novel designs, including flextensional designs, to lower the resonance frequency while maintaining the piezoelectric advantages of single crystal. These devices will provide several times the energy recapture of current commercial energy harvesting devices to expand the practical applications of this concept.

Advanced Manufacturing of Enhanced ACROW Standard Steel Orthotropic Deck

Faculty:PI: Sougata Roy, ATLSS Engineering Research Center, Lehigh University
Industry Affiliate: Milton Steel Company
Summary:This collaborative research project led by ATLSS Engineering Research Center of Lehigh University will investigate advanced manufacturing of enhanced prefabricated modular steel orthotropic bridge decks produced by Milton Steel Company, Milton, PA, a subsidiary of Acrow Corporation. There is a significant demand for these bridge decks in the domestic and international market: for temporary structures in the battle zones; for emergency bridge replacement after natural disasters; and for large urban construction projects. Although these bridges have survived in lightly traveled rural areas and secondary roads, their performance under heavy truck traffic in busy urban roadways and interstates have been less than desirable. In recent past there has been an increased interest among the owners and manager of the nation’s infrastructure in increasing the longevity of these bridges under heavier truck traffic on the interstates to mitigate the lack of sufficient funds for replacing bridges in a timely manner. As part of this research project several alternative enhancements to the existing deck design to extend the useful service life will be explored, and cost-effective advanced manufacturing of the decks using industrial robots for minimizing labor-intensive fabrication will be investigated. This collaborative university-industry research and development is key to sustaining the global competitiveness of this “Made in Pennsylvania” product and enabling Pennsylvania to be in the forefront of technological research, innovation, education and manufacturing.

Control System for High Performance Manufacturing

Faculty:PI: Emory Zimmers, Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Lehigh University
Industry Affiliate: Pequea Machine, Inc.
Summary:Pequea is a growing privately owned company manufacturing farm equipment in Lancaster County PA. It faces stiff competition, primarily from overseas. Rapid company growth has resulted in a need for a systematic method for controlling the design process, supply chain process and manufacturing process quality assurance. For the first time in company history, warranty claims, product reliability and customer satisfaction issues are having a significant impact on revenue and profitability. Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center (ESC) has been asked to provide the expertise necessary to analyze current processes and develop new processes as part of a high performance manufacturing control system to maintain quality control and customer satisfaction. This project proposes to analyze recent warranty claim and customer complaint history, Pareto the list of problem areas by frequency and cost and use this as a starting point for development of a manufacturing control system. The control system will be comprehensive to include the design process, supply chain process and production process quality assurance. It will enable scalable and agile (short concept-to-cash) manufacturing of high performance farm equipment in PA. It will utilize modeling and simulation technologies that can optimize a product design and manufacturing process before actual physical production is started. The data generated will support conclusions regarding product warranties and product reliability. Pequea’s design process will be enhanced to include solid works modeling and finite element analysis (FEA) simulation to reengineer problem parts and assembly designs. Shop drawings will be reviewed for sufficient specificity. This will enable risk reduction before actual manufacturing. Integrated operator quality assurance procedures will be established to maintain statistical process control. Statistical testing and documenting procedures will be created to audit in-house production as well as vendor production reports and be incorporated into the existing SAP system.

Diesel Particulate Filter Cleaning Process Time and Energy Efficiency

Faculty:PI: Emory Zimmers, Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Lehigh University
Industry Affiliate: Hunsicker Emissions Services, LLC
Summary:Recent EPA regulation requires diesel engine manufacturers to filter fine particle pollution from engine exhaust. This has led to the development of the Diesel Particulate Filter technology, currently installed on 1.4 million on-road trucks and buses in the US. This has also created the need for a new industry to clean/recondition DPF filters. The current DPF cleaning process can typically cost the owner two or more days in lost operating revenue, particularly for hard to clean filters. Hunsicker Emissions Services LLC is currently developing an innovative process technology to clean the DPF filters faster, cheaper, while using 50% less energy. The significant improvent in process efficiency will create a PA based industry providing the only same-day DPF cleaning option currently only offered through much more costly filter replacement. The process technology will increase efficiency of transportation and construction industries in PA by reducing vehicle downtime. It will also enable the recondition/reuse of the DPF, eliminating a major landfill problem. Hunsicker Emissions Services LLC plans to collaborate with Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center on the technology development project, as they have the required mechanical, industrial, and systems engineering skills and equipment to configure the process technology for commercialization. This collaboration will provide an opportunity for Lehigh University students to focus their learning on developing real world manufacturing solutions for PA. Once commercialized, Hunsicker Emissions Services LLC is commited to manufacturing the newly designed equipment in Pennsylvania. Hunsicker Emissions Services LLC is an independent service provider of Diesel Particulate Filter cleaning. The innovative process will provide a competive technology edge, driving current business growth and creating the potential for immediate hiring. It also provides the foundation for ongoing growth, as the EPA regulation for DPF phases in by Year 2015 to include all new off-road, locomotive, and marine diesel engines.

The Development and Deployment of Advanced Hybrid Polymer Melt Delivery Systems for Sustainable Energy Efficient High Precision Injection Molding

Faculty:PI: John Coulter, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics, Lehigh University
Industry Affiliate: TE Connectivity
Summary:The proposed project will partner the injection molding research expertise at Lehigh University with the industrial practice expertise at TE Connectivity, a PA based manufacturing company that is considered the World leader in the connector products industry. The specific objective of the proposed 18 month project will be to realize more sustainable, more energy efficient, and extremely high precision manufacturing at TE Connectivity through the development and deployment of novel hybrid melt delivery systems for injection molding processes. Challenges to be addressed will include the introduction of hot-runner affiliated molding concepts in multiple product/moderate production batch size environments and the accommodation of high performance polymers and ECO-friendly polymer compound additives that are extremely sensitive to degradation during manufacturing processes. A four phase plan will be followed collaboratively by the students and professionals involved to optimally address these challenges throughout the project. The targeted result will be several students ready to start leadership level manufacturing careers and theoretically supported physical hybrid melt delivery systems validated through testing and ready to be deployed in TE Connectivity manufacturing facilities in Pennsylvania.

Selective Laser Sintering of Nanocomposites

Faculty:PI: Martin Harmer, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Lehigh University
Industry Affiliate: Paramount Industries
Summary:The proposed project is a joint effort between Lehigh University (Bethlehem, PA) and Paramount a 3D Systems Company (Langhorne, PA) (hereafter referred to as "3D Systems") aimed at designing and synthesizing nanocomposite materials with enhanced properties and performance for selective laser sintering (SLS). SLS is an additive manufacturing technology that allows rapid, free-form fabrication of three-dimensional parts from digital plans. Components manufactured by SLS are desirable due to their low cost and rapid production time. However, challenges still exist, chiefly the limited number of materials that can be used in components manufactured with SLS and the corresponding limited range of accessible materials properties and performance. A common material used in SLS is polyamide (nylon), a polymer with good mechanical properties but poor thermal and electrical conductivity. Thermal and electrical conductivity are critical when SLS components are used to replace metallic components for weight savings and rapid product development. All three properties - mechanical, thermal, and electrical - can, in principle, be enhanced by the addition of ceramic or metallic nanoparticles to polyamide to form a nanocomposite material. Designing such a nanocomposite material is the goal of the joint project between Lehigh Universiy and 3D Systems. A key scientific focus will be understanding the polymer-nanoparticle interaction in terms of the surface interfacial phases ("complexions") of the nanoparticles. 3D Systems is a leader in additive manufacturing using SLS with strong relationships in the aerospace and defense sectors. The Lehigh University team has expertise in polymer physics and ceramics processing, and Lehigh is equipped with one of the best electron microscopy centers in the nation. This collaborative project will combine the manufacturing strengths of 3D Systems and the materials expertise of Lehigh University. Importantly, it represents a great opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students at Lehigh University to interact with scientists and engineers at 3D Systems, a high-tech Pennsylvania manufacturing facility.

Development of Antimicrobial Granular Activated Carbon

Faculty:PI: Derick Brown, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Lehigh University
Industry Affiliate: Siemens Industry, Inc
Summary:Granular activated carbon (GAC) is a hydrophobic material that has a very high surface area to volume ratio, and because of these properties, it is routinely used to remove contaminants from water through the process of sorption. At the same time, it can serve as a solid surface for the growth of bacterial biofilms. These biofilms may add benefit to the treatment of the water, as is the case with fluidized-bed bioreactors, or they can be a detriment, as is the case when using GAC for treatment of drinking water. For this latter case, GAC exhibiting antimicrobial properties is very desirable. Current techniques for manufacturing anti-microbial carbons rely on heavy metals to prevent bacterial growth. This is not an optimal approach and there is a great need to develop antimicrobial carbons that are more environmentally-benign. Recent conversations between Siemens and Lehigh University have identified synergy between the need for antimicrobial GAC and a hypothesis being developed at Lehigh that linksthe physiochemical properties of a surface to the metabolic activity of attached bacteria. Ongoing research on this hypothesis at Lehigh suggests that environmentally-benign surfaces can be developed to inhibit microbial growth. The application and demonstration of this approach towards the development of antimicrobial GAC would provide Siemens with a significant competitive edge in the activated carbon market. The work proposed herein will characterize the antimicrobial nature of baseline and surface-modified GACs, with the modified GACs treated to provide antimicrobial surface properties as predicted by the hypothesis. This project initiates a potential multi-phased research effort to understand antimicrobial properties of granular activated carbon. Pending promising results, the subsequent phase would apply the findings herein to optimize the development and manufacture of surface-modified GAC.

Light Spectrum Effects On Pigment Production In Symbiodinium Spp. Derived From Aquacultured Corals

Faculty:PI: Sabrina Jedlicka, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Lehigh University
Industry Affiliate: EcoTech Marine
Summary:Coral reef systems are a diverse, highly productive ecological system responsible for fixing large amounts of carbon from the atmosphere. Damage to natural coral reefs, due to climate change, oil spills, hurricanes and other events have severely impacted the health of these ecosystems, leading to legislation and efforts targeted at sustaining and rebuilding coral reefs. Aquaculture facilities have taken on this challenge by developing coral growth ecosystems outside of the ocean environment. These facilities require a well-manufactured artifical growth environment that commonly employs artificial lighting. However, the current understanding of how light spectrum impacts coral growth and health is limited. The growth of corals is directly linked to the symbiotic eukaryotic cells that exist within the coral tissue, from the Symbiodinium species. These cells, termed zooxanthellae, provide the coral tissue with energy derived from photosynthesis. EcoTech Marine, as an aquarium equipment manufacturing company, strives to work with the coral aquaculture industry to rebuild reef systems and to protect existing reef systems by developing equipment that is scientifically proven to enhance aquaculture conditions. Recently, EcoTech Marine released a fully controllable LED light fixture, however, for coral aquaculture facilities (both large and small scale) to fully adopt this technology to enhance their current coral propogation strategies, the lighting spectrum that most effectively sustains coral growth and health must be determined. During this study, we will examine the effects of LED light spectrum on coral/zooxanthellae pigment production and cell growth. The ultimate goal is to provide provide both aquaculture specialists and reef tank hobbyists with the scientific parameters to utilize LED based systems effectively and economically in coral growth and propogation. The data that results from this project will both advance the current scientific knowledge of coral growth, but also increase EcoTech Marine’s customer basis beyond the hobbyist to include coral aquaculture facilities. In addition, it will help guide EcoTech Marine’s future LED based designs and manufacturing strategies.