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MATERIALS TECHNOLOGIES FOR THE PROCESS INDUSTRIES OF THE FUTURE 6 Overall Recommendations With the IOF “market-pull” strategy in place, OIT has a solid basis for increasing the impact of its programs and projects. Although success in technology markets necessitates that some technology/product development plans remain proprietary, the IOF process of industry consensus is an excellent way to ensure the relevancy for OIT’s programs. LINKAGES BETWEEN INDUSTRY ROAD MAPS AND MATERIALS PROGRAMS The road maps are an excellent way of ensuring that OIT research is closely linked to meeting industry’s needs. One approach to setting priorities is first to ask the industry to rank its needs and then convene a group of knowledgeable experts (several from outside DOE) to assign qualitative rankings by class (e.g., excellent, very good, good, fair or poor). The program manager can select the best projects from the highest classes to create a balanced program. Proposal solicitations should be based on these priorities. Although R&D does not necessarily have to lead to an implementable solution quickly, progress toward that end should be demonstrated to warrant OIT support. To ensure that the list is current, industry road maps should be updated every two or three years, and unfinished road maps should be reviewed and either completed satisfactorily or the industry removed from the IOF Program. OIT must put mechanisms in place to maintain a precompetitive and crosscutting focus. This might be done by complementing industrial assessments of need with academic points of view and synthesizing decisions to structure requests for proposals and proposal rankings. Recommendation. The Office of Industrial Technologies should coordinate its materials technology programs with the technology road maps developed for the Industries of the Future (IOF) Program. Unfinished road maps should be completed, and all road maps should be updated every two to three years. Requests for research
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MATERIALS TECHNOLOGIES FOR THE PROCESS INDUSTRIES OF THE FUTURE proposals should be linked specifically to the highest priority needs of the IOF industries. MATERIALS NEEDS IN INDUSTRY ROAD MAPS The committee identified improved corrosion resistance, wear resistance, high-temperature performance of materials (including refractories), and materials modeling/database development as important crosscutting needs for all of the IOF industries. However, differences in requirements for materials performance and operating environments must be specified to determine the best way to address these needs. This will also be necessary to determine if the results of R&D that meet the needs of one industry will be applicable to another, in other words, distinguishing between “real” and “apparent” crosscutting opportunities. Not all of the materials technology needs in the road maps can be addressed by OIT. It is, therefore, essential that OIT focus on the highest priority needs that are applicable to the most IOF industries. Recommendation. The Office of Industrial Technology should determine the highest priority needs in the technology road maps as a basis for identifying opportunities for crosscutting research. Industry experts should be engaged to define the materials-performance requirements and operating environments. This information could then be used to develop new programs and evaluate current programs. MARKET-PULL STRATEGY Some of OIT’s materials technology programs, specifically AIM and CFCC, predate OIT’s market-pull strategy by a number of years. It appears to the committee that these programs have been continued partly for historical reasons rather than because they are compatible with the market-pull strategy. This situation can be changed over time (1) by ensuring that new projects are strongly linked to the highest priority needs of several IOF industries, (2) by changing the emphasis of existing programs so that they will contribute to meeting the highest priority needs, and (3) by terminating programs that cannot be modified to fit with the market-pull strategy. These changes must be weighed against protecting the value of long-term investments in materials science and technology over a period of years and maintaining an appropriate balance of basic and applied research. Recommendation. Current and new materials technology programs should be fully integrated into the market-pull strategy. Proposals for new programs should be evaluated based on how they will meet the highest priority needs identified in the
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MATERIALS TECHNOLOGIES FOR THE PROCESS INDUSTRIES OF THE FUTURE technology road maps. All programs should be reviewed annually. Those that support the highest priority needs should be strongly supported; those that do not should be refocused or discontinued. METRICS To avoid disappointments for both OIT and contractors, a clear definition of success (not necessarily commercialization, which can be a long process) should be agreed upon at the early proposal stage. If interim goals are not being met, reappraisals may be in order, or even a phased termination of the project to recoup scarce funds that could be used elsewhere. Nothing convinces an industry to invest in (or terminate) a project faster than an economic analysis of the results. Even rough estimates and an estimated time scale are helpful in this regard. These numbers will also help program managers identify what has worked best, thus serving as a guide for future decisions. Metrics should include energy efficiency, pollution prevention, and the use of renewable energy. Recommendation. A clear definition of “success” should be established at the beginning of all contracts, and progress should be measured annually by established metrics. A process should be developed for reevaluating projects that have not met their goals to determine if they should be continued.
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