By Laser 1 Technologies

Energy Innovation in Manufacturing

The future of the manufacturing industry largely depends on manufacturers’ abilities to source, store and utilize energy. Between government strategies and advancements in technology, we won’t likely see an end to the dialogue over and prioritization of energy innovation.

What is the consumer looking for?

Today’s consumers are primarily concerned with time-saving, money-saving, planet-saving products and manufacturing companies must deliver in order to compete in this global market.

Recent energy innovation projects

The UK historically stands as a global leader in emissions control. In response to consumer demand and in accordance with the government’s Industrial Strategy, the UK’s Artemis Intelligent Power is collaborating on a low-emissions project that will affect the off-highway vehicle sector. Along with Danfoss – a large supplier of hydraulic equipment to the off-road market – they aim to reinvent hydraulic power with the use of a digital displacement pump. This technology could reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions for some off-highway vehicles, such as excavators, more than 50%! Director of Artemis Intelligent Power, Niall Caldwell, believes that this project will “make a positive business case to end consumers simply by saving fuel and therefore money.”

Another energy-conscious project of note is the research and development of sodium-ion batteries. Whereas lithium-ion batteries rely on lithium – a costly, finite, hard-on-the-environment resource mined in Chile – sodium is an affordable and abundant alternative. Used as a substitute for lithium in rechargeable batteries, the creation of sodium-based batteries could have a dramatic impact on the electric vehicle industry. Additionally, sodium-ion batteries, while heavier than their lithium-ion counterparts, could store energy for large solar and wind power facilities – and at a lower cost.

Energy strategy

Longtime industry leader Tom Brown discussed energy in manufacturing with The Manufacturer, an online publication, “Energy will be crucially important for manufacturing. I think from a national point of view we lack a coherent energy strategy. We ricochet from one thing to another, depending on popular political opinion at the time.” He also believes that, while manufacturers are looking to alternative sources of energy and energy storage, they are inhibited by a full understanding of how to navigate the process as well as by the lack of consistent government support.

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