By Dr. Russell Chianelli, The University of Texas at El Paso, Materials Research and Technology Institute
In the December issue of MRS Bulletin “Energy Quarterly,” an article by Prachi Patel, “Materials Genome Initiative and Energy,” describes a new approach designed to accelerate the discovery of new energy efficient materials. The Materials Genome Initiative (MGI), a federal program instituted in 2011, is based on a concept called Integrated Computational Materials Engineering (ICME), which combines computational tools, experimental tools, and digital data to accelerate the discovery and design of new energy efficient materials. In this respect, it is similar to the combinatorial chemistry techniques used in the pharmaceuticals industry to accelerate the pace of drug discovery.
Ford Motor Company used a similar process to accelerate the development of materials for more energy efficient automobile engines. This system, virtual aluminum casting, saved Ford a large portion of development costs (25%) for new engine castings. The MGI encourages the development of ICME systems in other areas of materials for energy. This approach is generally applicable and is becoming crucial in the field of research and development for materials for energy.