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New Advanced Manufacturing Opportunity for Hydropower Projects

Mirko Musa, a research scientist, R&D associate staff member and water resources engineer, speaks with Jesse Heineman, a mechanical engineer at the U.S. Department of Energy's Manufacturing Demonstration Facility, an innovation hub at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) today opened a new technical collaboration opportunity for industry partners interested in developing innovative hydropower technologies using advanced materials and manufacturing. This opportunity, which leverages the lab’s existing technical collaboration program, will provide selected participants with access to DOE’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL, including its experienced staff and unique equipment and capabilities to demonstrate the application of advanced materials and manufacturing for hydropower.

The hydropower industry currently relies heavily on traditional manufacturing methods and materials. However, advanced manufacturing and materials have shown immense potential to boost the U.S. manufacturing industry, increase American competitiveness, reshore manufacturing capabilities, and revolutionize the energy sector. They also have the potential to alleviate maintenance, environmental, and operational challenges at both hydropower and manufacturing facilities. For example, additive manufacturing solutions (also known as 3D printing) can reduce manufacturing waste while enabling modern turbine designs.

This technical collaboration opportunity provides a unique platform, allowing companies to experiment with novel approaches to enhance the performance and sustainability of hydropower technologies without committing extensive resources and letting them validate and refine untested ideas. This innovative approach also fosters creativity within the industry while mitigating potential risks associated with large-scale investments. 

To be eligible, projects must have:

Interested applicants should visit the new program website for more details and instructions on how to submit a brief concept abstract (template provided). If the concept is within scope, applicants develop project proposals in collaboration with ORNL technical staff. Projects require a 50% cost share, and proposals are reviewed on a rolling basis until funds are expended.

This opportunity is the result of an effort that began in 2022 with a workshop that brought together industry leaders, researchers, and academics to discuss challenges facing hydropower and how new technology could help overcome them. ORNL researchers summarized this input in a report, which then informed WPTO’s Advanced Manufacturing and Materials for Hydropower Strategy

UT-Battelle manages ORNL for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States. The Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit  

This article was originally posted by the U.S. Department of Energy's Water Power Technologies Office.