July 22, 2016
Capitol Update

In this issue:


Recently, ASME held a Congressional briefing on “Advanced Manufacturing: Communities: Encouraging Innovation and Building the Advanced Manufacturing Economy of The future.” The briefing was attended by over 100 Members of Congress, Congressional Staff, Agency Officials, and thought leaders, filling the room and spilling into the hall. The briefing was convened in conjunction with the House Manufacturing Caucus as part of a series of manufacturing briefings being held throughout the year.

Bob Sims, Past President of ASME, welcomed the audience and introduced the Co-Chairs of the Manufacturing Caucus, Congressmen Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Tom Reed (R-NY). The Co-Chairs gave opening remarks focusing on the key role that advanced manufacturing plays in maintaining and improving the strength of the U.S. economy and highlighted Congress’s role in ensuring proper investments in this field.

The briefing consisted of a panel of experts, including: 

  • Nicholas M. Donofrio, IBM Fellow Emeritus; IBM Executive Vice President Innovation and Technology (Ret.); and Recent Chair of the National Academy of Engineering’s Study Committee on Making Value for America: Embracing the Future of Manufacturing, Technology, and Work.
  • Nam P. Suh, Former President of Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST); Former Director of the Park Center for Complex Systems (formerly the Manufacturing Institute) and the Head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at MIT; Received the ASME Medal for Distinguished Mechanical Engineering Achievements and nine honorary degrees.
  • Deborah Wince-Smith, President and CEO of the United States Council on Competitiveness; Former Assistant Secretary for Technology Policy in the United States Department of Commerce.
  • Tom Kurfess, Professor and HUSCO/Ramirez Distinguished Chair in Fluid Power and Motion Control, Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Tech; Former Assistant Director for Advanced Manufacturing at the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President of the United States of America; Co-Chair of the ASME Manufacturing Public Policy Task Force.
  • Steve Schmid, Professor of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, The University of Notre Dame; Former Assistant Director for Research Partnerships in the Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST); Co-Chair of the ASME Manufacturing Public Policy Task Force.

The purpose of the event was to bring to light the grand future we see for advanced manufacturing in the United States. The discussion focused on innovative solutions that can only be realized with the support of public-private partnerships that encourage the formation of manufacturing communities: places where universities, com­panies, and local governments work together to promote manufacturing education and innovation. Manufacturing communities work to drive education and training, which can then create a comprehensive innovation ecosystem and skills-pipeline that can only exist in these areas where modern manufac­turing is being touted and pursued.

The briefing was videotaped and footage will be posted on the ASME Public Policy Education Center (PPEC) once it is ready, so please check there soon.


On Monday, July 11, 2016, the House passed H.R. 5639, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Improvement Act of 2016. The bill was introduced on July 6, 2016, by Rep. John Moolenaar (R-MI) and was referred to the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. 

H.R. 5639 is a policy-only reauthorization of science and technology programs administered by NIST. It does not authorize appropriations, nor does it authorize new programs or hiring. The legislation updates policies and programs for NIST to ensure the Institute will continue its education programs, to require periodic independent review of NIST laboratory programs, to reflect recommendations of the National Academies and the Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology and to strengthen the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program.

H.R. 5639 seeks to provide for technological innovation through the prioritization of Federal investment in basic research, fundamental scientific discovery, and development to improve the competitiveness of the United States.

The NIST Improvement Act consists parts of the America COMPETES Act, which was signed into law in 2007 and prioritized basic research in the physical sciences and engineering. The America COMPETES Act authorized various federal science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education programs. The NIST Improvement Act is an attempt to update and modernize many of the programs included in the America COMEPETES Act and the bill contains many of the same substantive provisions as the NIST portion of H.R.1806, the House’s version of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015 that passed the House in May.

Although the COMPETES act has been the vehicle for reauthorizing NIST programs in recent years, the House Science Committee leadership is referring to the “NIST Improvement Act” as a NIST reauthorization bill. The bill has been criticized for its lack of funding authorizations, a key element of previous COMPETES acts.

The bill draws scrutiny over NIST, offering a provision that would require NIST to task the National Academy of Sciences with conducting a comprehensive review of NIST’s laboratory programs and conduct ongoing reviews of the individual labs, a controversial component.

A full summary of the bill can be found here:


On July 11, 2016 with bipartisan support, the House passed two bills which would establish new basic energy research initiatives at the Department of Energy: the Electricity Storage and Innovation Act (https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/5640) and the Solar Fuels Innovation Act (https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/5638).

The bills focus on basic research, a position backed by House Science Committee Chair Lamar Smith (R-TX) who believes the private sector is better equipped to develop and deploy new technologies while federal government should be the ones to pursue basic research. However, House Science Committee Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) thinks the scope of the bill should include applied research in addition to basic research. Despite her concerns, Johnson did not oppose passage of the bills, and said she is looking to conference to increase the scope of the bills to include applied research. The Senate has yet to consider similar legislation.


The U.S. auto industry will likely fall short of the Obama administration’s fuel efficiency goals for 2025 car models, although federal air quality regulators insisted on Monday that automakers are adding cleaner vehicles to their fleets faster than anticipated.

As part of the Obama administration’s agenda for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the EPA and the Transportation Department in 2012 called for cars and light-duty trucks sold in the United States to achieve average fuel economy of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. Instead, the EPA said in a required interim report released Monday that the average in 2025 would probably be about 50.8 mpg.

Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, told reporters that the 54.5 mpg goal was not mandatory. Existing standards simply require automakers to improve their fuel efficiency and cut their greenhouse emissions over time.

“Today’s draft report shows that automakers are developing far more technologies to improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, at similar or lower costs, than we thought possible just a few years ago," McCabe said. "And they are adopting these fuel-saving technologies into their fleets even faster than anticipated."

An April report from the Consumer Federation of America found that the number of cars delivering more than 23 mpg has risen by 43 percent over the last 10 years.

The draft study will be used to inform rule making on fuel efficiency standards and could lead to adjustment of the fuel efficiency goal. Regulators will field feedback from industry and the public over a 60-day period and determine whether or not to revise the target goals for 2022 to 2025 vehicles.

Auto industry groups urged the EPA to keep in mind that consumers are not flocking to vehicles with the best fuel economy and lowest emissions. 

And the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which represents a dozen car makers, including Ford Motor Co., BMW Group and General Motors Co., said in a statement that meeting the 2025 standard "will be a daunting challenge," and that "marketplace realities" and "excessive regulatory costs could impact both consumers and the employees who produce these vehicles.”​

Environmental advocates like the Environmental Defense Fund and the American Lung Association said regulators should resist calls to weaken emissions control standards.

“Greenhouse gases drive climate change, which is already taking a toll on air quality, increasing heat-related illnesses and deaths and causing more extreme, deadly weather events,” the American Lung Association’s national President and CEO Harold Wimmer said in a statement released by the organization. “The American Lung Association calls on regulators to adopt the strongest possible emissions standards and to accelerate national efforts to fight climate change."

The full interim report is available at: https://www3.epa.gov/otaq/climate/documents/mte/420d16901.pdf


The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory has selected six Phase II projects, to further develop innovative technologies for advanced gas turbine components and supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) power cycles. The projects were selected from eleven projects that participated in Phase I that was recently completed by private sector companies.

The six Phase II projects will receive a total of approximately $30 million of research funding from the DOE over the next 3.5 years.

In a combined-cycle power plant, a gas turbine generates electricity while its exhaust provides heat to a steam Rankine cycle to generate additional electricity. Current state-of-the-art combined-cycle power plants have net thermal efficiencies of approximately 61 percent (using natural gas lower heating value). Under these awards, DOE seeks to develop innovative technologies and advanced gas turbine components that will increase that efficiency to 65 percent.

The use of carbon dioxide in its supercritical state is an emerging alternative to using steam as the working fluid in a power cycle. Over the past few years, sCO2 power cycles have gained significant interest across multiple power generation applications (renewable, nuclear, and fossil energy). The use of these power cycles are attractive in comparison to steam because the thermophysical properties of sCO2 allow for higher power outputs in a smaller package. This reduced size increases efficiency and potentially reduces the cost of electricity. Two awards have been selected to develop oxy-combustion technology and turbo-expander seals to advance the state of the art for direct and indirect sCO2 power cycles.

The six projects selected for further funding are:

Rotating Detonation Combustion for Gas Turbines—Aerojet Rocketdyne (Canoga Park, CA), in partnership with the Southwest Research Institute, Purdue University, the University of Alabama, the University of Michigan, the University of Central Florida, and Duke Energy, will develop and demonstrate an air-breathing rotating detonation engine combustion system for power-generating gas turbines.
Cost—DOE: $3,942,602/Non-DOE: $2,880,882/Total Funding: $6,822,484.

Development of Low-Leakage Seals for Utility-Scale sCO2 Turbines—GE Global Research (Schenectady, NY), in partnership with Southwest Research Institute, will develop turbine end seals and inter-stage seals for utility-scale sCO2 power cycles to achieve a field-trial-ready design. The majority of the work will be focused on maturing turbine end seals by testing them in new and existing facilities at increasing pressures, temperatures, and seal sizes in both air and sCO2 environments.
Cost—DOE: $5,973,693/Non-DOE: $1,493,423/Total Funding: $7,467,116.

Cooled High-Temperature Ceramic Matrix Composite Nozzles for Gas Turbines for 65 Percent Efficiency—GE Power (Schenectady, NY), working with GE Global Research and Clemson University, will further develop high-temperature ceramic matrix composite turbine nozzles as an innovative component that will contribute to the DOE goal for advanced gas turbines.
Cost—DOE: $5,874,651/Non-DOE: $2,517,708/Total Funding: $8,392,359.

Advanced Multi-Tube Mixer Combustion for 65 Percent Efficiency—GE Power (Schenectady, NY), partnering with GE Global Research, will apply an advanced version of GE’s Micro Mixer combustion technology to enable turbine inlet temperatures in excess of 3,100 °F while minimizing NOx emissions.
Cost—DOE: $5,928,825/Non-DOE: $2,540,925/Total Funding: $8,469,750.

Ceramic Matrix Composite Advanced Transition for 65 Percent Combined-Cycle Efficiency—Siemens Energy Inc. (Orlando, FL), working with COI Ceramics and Florida Turbine Technologies will further develop a ceramic matrix composite design for Siemens’ Advanced Transition combustor in support of 65 percent efficient gas turbine combined-cycles.
Cost—DOE: $5,936,856/Non-DOE: $1,490,964/Total Funding: $7,427,820.

High-Inlet Temperature Combustor for Direct-Fired Supercritical Oxy-combustion—Southwest Research Institute (San Antonio, TX), in partnership with Thar Energy LLC, GE Global Research, Georgia Tech, and the University of Central Florida, will demonstrate a directly heated sCO2 oxy-combustor for an advanced state-of-the-art fossil-fired sCO2 power cycle.
Cost—DOE: $3,193,544/Non-DOE: $798,400/Total Funding: $3,991,944

Visit the ASME Public Policy Education Center at http://ppec.asme.org/ for daily news and policy developments, including the following:

ASME Government Relations
1828 L Street, NW, Suite 810
Washington, DC 20036
Website: http://www.asme.org/about-asme/advocacy-government-relations