King Joins National Laboratory Officials & UMaine to Launch Innovative Partnership to Grow Maine’s Economy

Collaborative effort between Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Maine is the result of a recommendation from the federal Economic Development Assessment Team requested by Sens. Collins & King

ORONO, ME – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) joined with officials from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and the University of Maine at Orono (UMaine) to announce the establishment of a partnership between the two that will work to strengthen Maine’s forest economy.

 

ORNL and UMaine today signed a Letter of Intent expressing their commitment to establishing a collaborative model that brings together ORNL’s expertise in additive manufacturing and composites with UMaine’s focus on forest bio-based composites and other composite structures to advanced and support the state’s forest products sector.

 

“A nationally recognized center at UMaine is intended to function as an ORNL collaborative partner, advancing additive manufacturing of forest bio-based low cost composite materials and large structures, supporting ongoing relationships with marine, military, civil infrastructure, and renewable energy clients and providing a regional center for workforce training,” the Letter of Intent reads.

 

The signing of the Letter of Intent marks one of the first steps in implementing the recommendations offered by the federal Economic Development Assessment Team, which was created at the request of Senators King and Susan Collins in March 2016 to support the state’s forest products industry.

 

            “The University of Maine and Oak Ridge National Laboratory are world-class research institutions, and the collaborative, innovative partnership established today will leverage their collective knowledge and expertise to advance opportunities that will attract biobased industries and grow Maine’s forest economy,” Senator King said. “This is both a welcome and encouraging step forward for all those who call our beautiful state home and particularly for those who work in our forest economy. I am hopeful that it will be the first of many to come that will lead to job creation and economic growth across rural Maine.”

 

“The partnership announced between UMaine and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory is a testament to the many innovations that have already been achieved by UMaine and will accelerate the promising research of using forest-based biomaterials and composites in advanced manufacturing applications,” said Senator Collins.  “Today’s announcement fulfills one of the recommendations of the Economic Development Assessment Team Senator King and I requested to help grow the economy and create jobs in rural Maine communities, and it represents another important milestone in our efforts to strengthen the forest products industry.”

 

Before the Letter of Intent was signed today, Senator King received a private briefing from officials with the Department of Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office, ORNL, and UMaine about the partnership. Senator Collins attended the briefing via Skype. Following the tour, Senator King toured the Alfond Advanced Manufacturing Lab for Structural Thermoplastics.

 

To text of the Letter of Intent is as follows:

 

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Letter of Intent to Establish a University-Laboratory Partnership

Bringing Together Oak Ridge National Laboratory and University of Maine Expertise

in Additive Manufacturing of bio-based Composites and Structures

 

  1. Establishment of a National Laboratory-University Collaboration.  UT-Battelle, LLC (UT-Battelle), managing the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and the University of Maine (UMaine) are proposing the creation of a collaboration platform to develop forest-based biomaterials for use with advanced additive manufacturing, composite materials development and manufacturing, as well as bio-refineries, bioenergy and biofuels.  ORNL staff visited the UMaine Advanced Structures and Composites Center twice in the fall of 2016, with a subsequent visit by UMaine staff and faculty as well as forest products industry representatives to the DOE’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL.  ORNL has developed a major focus in composite materials manufacturing and world leadership in additive manufacturing.  UMaine has developed a major focus in composites materials and structures design, manufacturing, evaluation and applications.  ORNL and UMaine are working with the intent to establish a collaborative model bringing together ORNL’s expertise in additive manufacturing and composites along with UMaine’s focus on forest bio-based composites and other composite structures. A nationally recognized center at UMaine is intended to function as an ORNL collaborative partner, advancing additive manufacturing of forest bio-based low cost composite materials and large structures, supporting ongoing relationships with marine, military, civil infrastructure, and renewable energy clients and providing a regional center for workforce training.

 

  1. Support for Forest Biomass and Low-Grade Softwood Products. On October 18, 2016, the North East Bioeconomy Forum, one of six forums held nationally and sponsored by USDA and the DOE, was held at UMaine to engage public and private stakeholders in Maine on efforts to build and grow the “Billion Ton Bioeconomy” and to seek local input on the Billion Ton initiative’s vision, strategies and implementation. On a parallel track, ORNL and UMaine intend to work with key stakeholders with the goal of organizing a workshop on market and technology opportunities on forest biomass and low-grade softwood products, including residual material utilization. 

 

This Letter of Intent memorializes the intention of ORNL and UMaine, but does not create any legally binding obligations.  The formation of a formal Partnership and/or any commitment of funds, protection and allocation of intellectual property rights, disclosure of proprietary information, or commitment of other resources is to be made under a separate agreement between the parties, subject to approval by the U.S. Department of Energy.