Low-energy, low-temp process turns biowaste into plastic

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office issued a statement honoring the millions of people who work in the field and touting its funding opportunities for advanced manufacturing technologies, especially for projects that reduce energy consumption. Manufacturing is a key part of the cleantech development process, and Centered gives a shout out to everyone involved in the industry. You’ll notice that most of our stories today have a direct connection to manufacturing.

Today’s headlines:

🥤 PLASTICS: Ames Laboratory researchers discovered a lower-energy, lower-temperature process to convert lignin — a natural plant compound that becomes waste during paper manufacturing — into chemical precursors for making nylon. The conversion process is more environmentally friendly than others and is an alternative to the waste lignin’s typical disposal method: burning it for heat.


  • Chicago-based lithium-ion battery material startup NanoGraf Technologies (previously featured in Centered) made Built In’s list of 21 semiconductor companies that are driving technological and manufacturing growth.
  • Argonne National Laboratory received nearly $15 million in funding from the Department of Energy for six advanced battery manufacturing projects. Researchers are working to develop more powerful, longer-lasting, cheaper, and safer batteries that enhance energy efficiency and strengthen the electric grid.
Argonne scientists assemble lithium-ion battery electrodes for testing. Image by Mark Lopez/Argonne National Laboratory.

🏃 ACCELERATORS: The Milwaukee Business Journal posted an interactive map of tech hub spaces spanning the I-94 corridor from Chicago to the Twin Cities. Milwaukee’s Energy Innovation Center and Global Water Center are among the featured innovation hubs.



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