As part of the the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI), the smaRt Institute will bring together the expertise of eight top-tier research universities engaged in worldleading research in metals processing, polymers, fiber materials and composites; in collaboration with leading research institutions, industry groups, and global manufacturing and postindustrial and postconsumer waste companies.

The smaRt Institute will cultivate a portfolio of projects focused on reducing the embedded energy in manufactured products through technological advances and new processes that consider the entire lifecycle of the manufacture and reuse system. The institute will focus on four categories of materials - metals, plastics, fibrous materials, and e-waste. Transformative and novel technologies developed by industry, universities and research centers will be employed to tackle critical issues associated with recycling, reusing and remanufacturing products. The institute will tackle cross-cutting challenges related to clean manufacturing, and those associated with improving the efficiency of the manufacturing sector.

Closing the loop on manufacturing lifecycles

  • reduce
  • reuse
  • recycle
  • recover
  • redesign
  • remanufacture

The manufacturing industry accounts for nearly 25% of the energy consumption in the USA. As this energy use is forecasted to increase, new technologies are needed to further reduce the life-cycle embodied energy associated with materials production. Metals, polymers, papers, and e-waste are the streams with the highest embodied energy. These four streams have critical needs that, if resolved, could dramatically improve the energy demand of the manufacturing sector. Such needs include reduction in material feedstock through reduction, reuse, and recycling, or developing technologies to recover high-valued components, as well as removing contaminants from recycled systems.

We must close the loop on the manufacturing lifecycle of products, with recovery and reuse of a much larger portion of the inputs to manufacture as we move toward a near-zero waste economy. The increasing scarcity of raw materials requires that we develop sustainable manufacturing systems for the efficient utilization of inputs, more robust systems for reducing and recouping waste, and total lifecycle management of products that includes environmentally friendly design, and end-of-life management of materials.

Smarrrt Collaboration | The smaRt Institute will facilitate collaboration and fast track the commercialization of innovations.
Manufacturers, universities and research laboratories are currently working on a wide range of solutions leading to a sustainable society. In some instances, the technology is already available but has not yet moved from the lab into production. The smaRt Institute will facilitate research collaboration and technology transfer to fast track the commercialization of innovation focused on sustainable manufacturing.
smarrrt collaboration map

The smaRt Clean Energy Manufacturing Institute

Public/Private Partnership Proposal

The Advanced Manufacturing Office of the Department of Energy is making $70 million in funds available for the creation of a new Clean Energy Manufacturing Institute. The projects funded require a 50% cost share from the participating institution.

As an Institute in the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, the smaRt Institute will leverage the expertise of top researchers across institutions and industries to develop new materials, methods and systems for manufacturing across the lifecycle of products.

TESTBED FACILITIES: Facilities are planned in California for e-waste recycling, in Florida for medical waste recycling, and in Michigan for polymers and metals recycling as testbeds for new equipment.

WORKFORCE TRAINING: A strong workforce training program will help to translate the innovation of the smaRt Institute to the manufacturing sector. The institute will collaborate with stakeholders in professional associations, community colleges and industry to train a new generation of workers focused on sustainable manufacturing through total lifecycle management.

Lifecycle Manufacturing for Environmental & Economic Impact diagram

To join the smaRt Institute's strong core of global partners contact Andre Benard at benard@msu.edu



The challenges to be addressed by the smaRt Institute incude:

  • identifying and developing shared technology capabilities both within and across four of the most energy intensive materials classes (polymers, metals, fibers and e-waste)
  • demonstrating and deploying these technologies at different stages during the manufacturing process lifecycle
Focus Area Diagram

Benefits to

smaRt Collaboration

  • Access to world-leading research programs in metals processing, polymers, fibrous material (pulp), and composites
  • Access to students from top universities
  • Fast-track access to new technologies
  • Federal and state funding to expand R&D
  • Industry-driven research
  • Facilitated collaboration across industries and materials
  • Workforce training and shared best practices for reducing waste
  • Environmental and economic benefits of total lifecycle management

University Leads:

smaRt Institute CEO/Director

Michael Casaburi
Phone: 312.404.4533

smaRt Institute Deputy Director

Andre Benard
Michigan State University
Dept. of Mechanical Engineering

Associate Director

James F. Klausner
Michigan State University
MSU Foundation Professor and Chair, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering