2017 Manufacturing Summit

The 2017 Manufacturing Summit is being held today and tomorrow in Washington DC. You can view the livestream of the event here at 11:30am EST.

The Monday Economic Report – June 19, 2017, was not so positive. It said:

… Manufacturing production fell for the second time in the past three months, down 0.4 percent in May. Motor vehicles and parts production led the decline in May, down 2.0 percent for the month and off 1.5 percent year to date, as automotive demand has continued to be weaker than desired so far in 2017. Despite the easing in this latest release and some lingering challenges, the underlying data remain consistent with a manufacturing sector that has turned a corner and has moved in the right direction, especially relative to where it stood at this point last year. Manufacturing production has risen 1.4 percent over the past 12 months, expanding for the seventh consecutive month.

Global Manufacturing

The overall scenario for global manufacturing is still positive. You can read the details here. Summary:

  • Eurozone manufacturers reported their best growth rates since April 2011
  • Canada did well in May, in spite of a pullback from a six-year high in April
  • Mexico saw a slight rebound in May but below expectations
  • Chinese manufacturing contracted slightly for the first time in 11 months
  • Japanese manufacturing showed a modest expansion in May
  • Emerging markets expanded, but at the slowest pace in May since September

Let’s see what the Summit will reveal, although nothing earth-shaking is expected.

US Manufacturing output jumps in April 2017

US manufacturing production grew at the fastest clip in the last month surprising earlier predictions.  The Federal Reserve said that the US industrial production at factories, mines and utilities jumped 1 percent in April from March, its biggest in three years.

Source: Federal Reserve


From Waste to Bioeconomy (Agriculture Production + Manufacturing)

The peer-reviewed journal of the Royal Society of Chemistry has published a paper by Dr. Joshua Yuan of Texas A&M AgriLife Research.  The essence is that lignin, a class of complex organic polymers found in vascular plants and algae can now be converted into high quality carbon fiber, which has a wide variety of applications.  Credit: phys.org

Credit:Texas A&M AgriLife Research

Here are the details: Lignin is derived from the Latin word lignum which means wood.  It is believed that its original function was to provide structure in plants but in most vascular plants (which includes ferns and flowering plants), it is used for transporting water.

Each year the US paper and pulp industry outputs about 50 million tons of lignin as waste, while biorefineries that use plants to make ethanol could potentially yield another 100 to 200 tons of lignin.  Today, only about 2 percent of this lignin is recycled into new products. 

Sir Joseph Wilson Swan, a British physicist, chemist and inventor is known as an independent developer of the incandescent light bulb, credited with supplying the electric lights used in the world’s first homes and public buildings (Savoy Theater in 1881).  He invented the carbon fiber in 1860.  Source: Wikipedia

The demand for carbon fiber composites is increasing by 7% each year to reach US $10.8 billion in 2015.  With the ability to turn lignin into high quality carbon fiber, the applications will explode.  Source: Wikipedia

The most important point is that this entire bioeconomy of growing, harvesting and transporting the lignin and the advanced manufacturing into carbon fibers, can all be in the US.   Last year, Phys.org published this story about carbon fiber from wood used to make cars and batteries.  Lignin batteries are indistinguishable from Lithium batteries.  So, it’s not too far out in future.