N.C. State will serve as the southeast hub for a new $140 million-plus Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute being announced today by President Obama.

NCSU already is the headquarters for Power America, one of nine already established institutes focusing on advanced materials and technology. Power America focuses on power grid and related technologies.

The focus is development of so-called “smart sensors” for advanced manufacturing.

The public-private sector Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition (SMLC) and the Department of Energy will oversee the program.

Also, the federal government announced plans for a competition through which sites will be selected for a variety of other smart manufacturing hubs.

The headquarters for the initiative will be located in Los Angeles.

According to the White House, the program is intended to help create more manufacturing jobs in the United States.

Full details of the program will be spelled out at a press conference Monday morning.

More than $140 million in public- and private-sector funding have been committed to the effort, the White House says.

Obama is announcing details at the SelectUSA Summit in the nation’s capital.

New hub competition

Hubs will be created in the following areas as described by the White House:

  • Robotics in Manufacturing Environments Manufacturing Innovation Institute. In collaboration with the Department of Defense, the newest manufacturing institute will focus on building U.S. leadership in smart collaborative robotics, where advanced robots work alongside humans seamlessly, safely, and intuitively to do the heavy lifting on an assembly line or handle with precision, intricate or dangerous tasks. People collaborating with robots has the potential to change a broad swath of manufacturing sectors, from defense and space to automotive and health, enabling the reliable and efficient production of high-quality, customized products.
  • Advanced Tissue Biofabrication Manufacturing Innovation Institute. In collaboration with the Department of Defense, the Institute will pioneer next-generation manufacturing techniques for repairing and replacing cells and tissues, which may one day lead to the ability to manufacture new skin for soldiers scarred from combat or to produce life-saving organs for the too many Americans stuck on transplant waiting lists today. The Institute will focus on solving the cross-cutting manufacturing challenges that stand in the way of producing new synthetic tissues and organs – such as improving the availability, reproducibility, accessibility, and standardization of manufacturing materials, technologies, and processes to create tissue and organ products. We expect collaborations across multiple disciplines; from 3D bio-printing, cell science, and process design, automated pharmaceutical screening methods to the supply chain expertise needed to rapidly produce and transport these live-saving materials.
  • Modular Chemical Process Intensification (MCPI) Institute. In collaboration with the Department of Energy, the Institute will fundamentally redesign the process used for manufacturing chemicals, refining fuels, and producing other high-value products by combining many complex processing stages into one simple and streamlined step. Process intensification breakthroughs can dramatically shrink the footprint of equipment needed on a crowded factory floor or eliminate waste by using the raw input materials more efficiently. For example, by simplifying and shrinking the process, this approach could enable natural gas refining directly at the wellhead, saving up to half of the energy lost in the ethanol cracking process today. In the chemical industry alone, these technologies could save more than $9 billion annually in process costs.
  • Reducing Embodied Energy and Decreasing Emissions (REMADE) in Materials Manufacturing Institute. In collaboration with the Department of Energy, the Institute will focus on reducing the total lifetime use of energy in manufactured materials by developing new cradle-to-cradle technologies for the reuse, recycling, and remanufacturing of manmade materials. U.S. manufacturing consumes nearly a third of the nation’s total energy use annually, with much of that energy embodied in the physical products made in manufacturing. New technologies to better repurpose these materials could save U.S. manufacturers and the nation up to 1.6 quadrillion BTU of energy annually, equivalent to 280 million barrels of oil, or a month’s worth of that nation’s oil imports.
  • Industry-proposed Institutes Competition. Leveraging authorities from legislation passed with broad bipartisan support in Congress, the Department of Commerce has launched the first “open topic” institute competition. This competition is open to any topic proposed by industry not already addressed by a manufacturing innovation institute. At least one institute will be awarded using FY2016 funds, and one or more will be awarded subject to the availability of additional funds. The open topic competition design allows industry to propose technology areas seen as critical by leading manufacturers to the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing.