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ENERGY SECRETARY WATKINS ANNOUNCES FOUR NEW PARTNERSHIPS WITH INDUSTRY

 ENERGY SECRETARY WATKINS ANNOUNCES
 FOUR NEW PARTNERSHIPS WITH INDUSTRY
 GOLDEN, Colo., June 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Secretary of Energy James D. Watkins today announced the signing of four cooperative research and development agreements (CRADAs) pairing up U.S. industry with the department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
 The CRADAs, which involve $36 million of research and development over a period of up to six years, will support work with:
 -- A major oil company, Amoco, on a novel technique for producing ethanol from the cellulose in waste paper;
 -- The U.S. auto industry, on advanced insulation for new high- performing batteries needed for electric cars;
 -- The nation's leading ceramics producer, Coors Ceramics, on a way to make silicon carbide powders at low cost; and
 -- A leading electronics supplier, Brush Wellman, on using solar energy to reduce component failure rates.
 "These partnerships exemplify the purpose of the National Technology Initiative," Watkins said. "They bring the expertise of our national laboratories to bear on the competitive challenges facing U.S. industry today."
 The CRADA with Amoco marks the first involvement by a major fuel supplier with NREL's pioneering work in converting cellulose to ethanol. Cellulose is the primary constituent of trees and grasses, even yard and paper waste. The NREL ethanol production method offers the potential of using these abundant, domestic, renewable feedstocks to produce alternative transportation fuels.
 Amoco will work with NREL to assess the economic and engineering feasibility of converting selected feedstocks. A pilot-scale facility will be constructed at NREL next year to demonstrate the process, which uses enzymes to break down cellulose into sugars that can be converted to ethanol. After a more definitive process design, the partners intend to advance to a commercial-scale demonstration facility to be provided by Amoco.
 Amoco has committed $25 million to the effort and NREL $4 million.
 The CRADA with the U.S. Advanced Battery Consortium results from an historic partnership between DOE and the nation's big three automakers, the Chrysler Corporation, Ford Motor Company and General Motors Corporation, with support from the electric utility industry.
 NREL has developed a unique high-performance vacuum insulation for refrigerators and freezers that can be adapted to help control the heat generated by high-temperature batteries. Under a CRADA with the consortium, NREL will develop prototype thermal control systems for different battery technologies. The total value of the CRADA is $3.3 million, with DOE and the consortium equally sharing the cost.
 The U.S. Advanced Battery Consortium is a four-year, $260 million project. The DOE is providing for half of the funding for the USABC contracts, matched by contributions from the three automakers and the Electric Power Research Institute and cost sharing from participating battery companies. The program has as its goal the development of advanced batteries that can make widespread use of electric cars feasible by the year 2000.
 Under the CRADA with NREL and Coors Ceramics Company, researchers will experiment with manufacturing silicon carbide powders using concentrated sunlight generated by NREL's high-flux solar furnace. The furnace is a configuration of large mirrors that reflect and concentrate sunlight onto a small target. This process could greatly reduce the cost of manufacturing the silicon carbide powders since it uses less energy than conventional methods.
 Coors Ceramics uses ceramic silicon carbide powders for a variety of industrial and commercial applications, such as fluid handling chemical pump seals and other components in highly corrosive environments such as the paper industry.
 Coors Ceramics is the largest manufacturer of technical ceramics in the United States with 12 domestic ceramics plants. The company currently imports most of the needed silicon carbide powders from overseas; the company's main competitors are headquartered in Japan, Britain and France. If an inexpensive method of producing ceramic powders can be found domestically, Coors could cut its imports, lower its costs, potentially expand its markets to engine applications and strengthen its competitive position in international markets.
 The $2.7 million CRADA will be cost-shared, with Coors contributing approximately $1.5 million and DOE approximately $1.2 million.
 The final CRADA announced today also involves research with NREL's high-flux solar furnace. The agreement with Brush Wellman Inc. of Cleveland could lower the cost and improve the production of widely used electronic devices.
 Brush Wellman manufactures high-quality beryllium ceramic used in electronic components found in automobiles, computers and telecommunications devices. The ceramic substrates also have applications in the aerospace industry and the military. Under the CRADA, NREL will test assembling the electronic components with concentrated sunlight. The sunlight allows researchers to weld metal onto ceramics with pinpoint accuracy. If phase one of the CRADA is successful, a smaller, pilot-scale solar furnace will be designed for Brush Wellman Ceramics in Tucson, Ariz. Brush Wellman and NREL researchers believe that using concentrated sunlight will cut the cost of making the electronic components and improve their overall performance.
 CRADAs are a form of technology commercialization agreement that permits federal labs to collaborate with private businesses on research that can lead to improvements in commercial technologies while achieving the objectives of federal research and development programs. With the completion of the CRADAs announced today, DOE laboratories will have entered into more than 140 CRADAs with U.S. businesses and other research organizations, compared with only 22 in June of 1991.
 NREL, located in Golden, is the nation's lead laboratory in the research and development of renewable energy technologies. It is operated and managed for DOE by Midwest Research Institute of Kansas City, Mo.
 On Thursday, June 11, Watkins and other members of President Bush's administration will participate in the eighth National Technology Initiative (NTI) conference at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden.
 -0- 6/10/92
 /CONTACT: Chris Powers, 303-231-7842, or Jeff Sherwood, 202-586-5806, both of the U.S. Department of Energy/ CO: U.S. Department of Energy; Coors Ceramics; Amoco; Brush Wellman ST: Colorado IN: SU:


IH -- DC021 -- 8844 06/10/92 13:00 EDT
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