Lehigh University is one of 17 colleges in the state to receive grants totaling $2.3 million through the Manufacturing PA initiative, Gov. Tom Wolf said today.
The initiative is funding 36 student research projects that will help advance innovation in several sectors of manufacturing, from 3D printing to waste sustainability, to autonomous navigation and more, Wolf said.
Lehigh University is working with Dynalene Inc. to develop economical chloride blends that are minimally corrosive to stainless steel alloys for renewable energy applications, said Animesh Kundu, principal research scientist in Lehigh’s Center for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology.
The chloride salt blends are identified to be optimal for next generation concentrated solar power plants (Generation 3) but cannot be deployed in applications because of their extreme corrosive behavior towards most metals and metallic alloys including the common materials of construction in solar power plants, he said.
The research team has developed an additive package for appropriate chloride salt blends that are minimally corrosive towards stainless steel alloys, he said. The chemicals in the additive package react with stainless steel in presence the chloride salt blends at high temperatures forming a ceramic oxide coating on the stainless-steel surface exposed to the molten chloride salts.
“Pennsylvania’s manufacturing industry has seen continued growth and innovation, and I am amazed at the work these students and companies do,” Wolf said. “My administration continues to be committed to providing funding to students involved in this important industry. I am proud to fund these 36 projects and look forward to seeing what they create.”
The approved projects are part of Manufacturing PA’s fellowship program. The program embeds the commonwealth’s best and brightest graduate and undergraduate students with local manufacturers, Wolf said.
Once paired, the students embark on research projects to develop new technologies and advance innovation statewide.
Universities that have partnered with a manufacturer can apply for and receive between $25,000 and $70,000 in funding for specific student research projects.
In addition to Millersville, the 36 projects awarded grants are involved in partnerships with local manufacturing companies and the following Pennsylvania colleges:
Neil Weaver, acting secretary of the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) joined Rick Lucas, chief technology officer of ExOne, and others in Harrisburg to celebrate these grants today.
The fellowship was developed through collaboration with Pennsylvania’s seven research institutions, manufacturers, and industrial resource centers (IRCs) across the commonwealth and is administered by DCED and Carnegie Mellon University.
Since its inception in 2018, the fellowship has granted $9.8 million to 409 students across the commonwealth. About 117 companies located across the commonwealth have benefited from the partnerships this fellowship has provided.
Wolf’s Manufacturing PA initiative ensures that training leads not simply to any job, but to careers that provide higher pay and opportunities for advancement.
Working with DCED’s strategic partners, including IRCs, Pennsylvania’s colleges, universities, technical schools, and non-profit organizations, this initiative fosters collaboration and partnerships to accelerate technology advancement, encourage innovation and commercialization, and build a 21st century workforce, the governor’s office said.