Why does the world need manufacturing skills? News | So Good News


Six experts on greenhouse gas; They share how they’re cleaning up plastics and waste — and how they’re building their planet-saving businesses.

How do we prevent blackouts? Clean up the air and plastics in our waterways? Or build clean energy technologies while reducing waste? In other words, how do we change the world?

Hint: Hire a production manager.

Launched in late 2021, A new series of profiles called Manufacturing Masterminds features the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL’s) advanced manufacturing chemists; analysts; Showing the actions of engineers and leaders. How our professionals build their careers; They share what advice they have for future professionals and what podcasts they listen to on their way to work (spoiler alert: sure The New York Times (It’s a popular everyday choice.)

So far, six experts have shared how to reduce waste and emissions in manufacturing (while making sure Americans get the products they need); Creating plant-based plastics (or reinventing what pollutes the world) and building reusables. Renewable energy technologies (to help decarbonize the grid). Their main courses include baby-sized zucchini; toy plants, ice axes, Microbes that eat plastic rickety (motivated) power lines; television shows; The shape of the garbage and the unstoppable island child.

A bird-like carpenter smiles against a background of mechanical figures and symbols.
Birdie Carpenter. Photo by Birdie Carpenter, NREL. Graphics by Jennifer Breen Martinez, NREL

Where is that island? Alberta (Birdie) CarpenterA senior environmental engineer at NREL, he grew up in the first subject of the series. As a child, she bounced from place to place, always considering the small island of Saipan, where no stoplights had been installed, as her true home. Carpenter’s web-like nomadic childhood is a carbon copy of what she learns today: the tangled global carbon footprint that manufacturing leaves in its wake.

“Manufacturing uses a lot of really bad stuff and produces a lot of pollution,” Carpenter said in her Manufacturing Masterminds profile. “So how do we do better? Manufacturing can be part of ecosystem services, so they don’t destroy the ecosystem, they just strengthen or improve it,” she says. “There’s no one-size-fits-all solution.”

Parthiv Kurup in the background of industrial images and symbols
Parthiv Kurup Photo by Parthiv Kurup, NREL. Graphics by Jennifer Breen Martinez, NREL

Each bottle of milk Leather (or faux leather) jackets and gas or electric cars that start at the mine and end up in a landfill or recycling center (if recycling is an option) carry a carbon footprint. Even solar panels and wind turbines have their own complex footprints. Each footprint comes with a cost; It is a place of control.
Parthiv KurupA cost and systems analyst from NREL came in. “For someone, it has to make sense in order to buy it,” Kurup said in his Q&A profile.

Growing up in India in the 1980s, Kurup saw blackouts meant to protect a shaky power line, and the unplanned blackouts that happened when those protections failed. These dark letters inspired him to get involved in the energy industry, and ultimately renewable energy, which he believes has led to a better understanding of the environment and economics. Today, consumers We analyze the energy and financial costs behind renewable energy technologies to ensure that industries and countries understand their value.

“As Wayne Gretzky said, ‘You don’t skate where the dogs hatch, you skate where they hatch,'” Kurup said. “Renewable energy is where the hatchlings come in.”

Nic Rorrer in front of industrial images and symbols
Nic Rohrer Nic Rohrer, NREL; Graphics by Jennifer Breen Martinez, NREL

Maybe plastic. Nic Rorrer’s The predictions were correct. “Our future society is very likely to use plastics,” said Rorrer, a senior researcher at NREL. “We’re not going to lie when we say we do a good job handling end-of-life products. It’s scary. But my mineral water bottle, This is true for many things, such as food waste and sustainable fuels and products. So the question is how to reshape plastics for reuse.

Rorrer is exploring plant-based plastics built from corn and sugar, and discovering new ways to break down and recycle today’s most abundant (and strongest) plastics, for example by plastic mold spores. His dream is to one day strap on a resin-based snowboard.

Avantika Singh in front of industrial images and symbols.
Avantika Singh Photo by Avantika Singh, NREL; Graphics by Jennifer Breen Martinez, NREL

Chemical engineering Avantika Singh Rorrer can help make that dream come true—because she’s well on her way to success. Early in her career, Singh explored the waste bins in her native India. Visited composting plants and other waste processing facilities. After climbing mountains of trash filled with recyclable plastics, she promised herself: “If I can change that part, I will.”

Now a member of the Bio-optimized Technologies for Thermoregulation in Landfills and the Environment (BOTTLE™) consortium, Singh, along with Rorrer, transforms plastics; To design new ways to reuse and recycle—like the carbon-based plastics commonly found in clothes carpets and bottles—before they ended up in landfills on the mountain. “I hate trash. I absolutely hate garbage,” Singh said to explain her career and life decisions. “If there’s anything I want to do to prevent it, reuse it, or reuse it.”

Robynne Murray in front of industrial images and symbols.
Robynne Murray Photo by Robynne Murray, NREL Graphics by Jennifer Breen Martinez, NREL

Another waste reduction champion; Robynne MurrayAward-winning products are already in production. Her team’s new thermoplastic resin can be used to build reusable, cost-effective and durable wind turbine and tidal turbine blades. A “bit of a rebel” in high school, Murray thought she would never end up at NREL. “If I knew I was going to do something useful and meaningful in life, I would have had more confidence then,” Murray said of her path to renewable energy research.

Now, Murray gets dirty in and out of the lab, producing and evaluating new materials (like plant-based resins) or climbing rocks and ice; She envisions skiing across the Alps and digging for clams in Canada’s Bay of Fundy, where she grew up—where she hopes to one day install the tidal turbines she helped install.

Meredith Doyle Before Industrial Figures and Symbols.
Meredith Doyle. Photo by Meredith Doyle; NREL; Graphics by Jennifer Breen Martinez, NREL

materials chemist at NREL Meredith Doyle My hands were dirty when I was young. The budding scientist conducted experiments to see how big a zucchini could get (see Doyle’s Q&A profile for a baby-sized gourd). now, As project manager and chief operating officer of the BOTTLE consortium, Doyle oversees national laboratories; Leads an interdisciplinary team of over 100 researchers from academia and industry. Together, they are developing ways to break down or recycle plastics and reduce the energy needed to produce them.

“I wanted to do something big, something that would help the world, help people,” Doyle said. She got her wish, as did Singh. Doyle not only landfills, but oceans, The largest, which is flooded with rainwater and fish from all over the world. Doyle is helping to find solutions to one of the world’s most pressing global challenges: plastic waste.

“Plastics have revolutionized our society,” Doyle said. They changed food storage and medical treatments. But plastic waste—especially from single-use plastics—is piling up around the world. Still, Doyle is optimistic: “I really think we can change the world.”

Learn more about NREL. Manufacturing Masterminds Q&A Profile Series.


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