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Next-generation materials and manufacturing processes hold great promise for reducing societal energy use and environmental impacts. Examples include synthetic biology for scalable and low-impact manufacture of chemicals and fuels, advanced composites for lightweight vehicles, high-strength materials for more durable goods and structures, and nanomaterials for energy applications. Rigorous, prospective assessment of the potential environmental and economic implications of such technologies is critical for informing early decisions on RD&D investments, policy incentives, and initial target markets, all of which can help usher advanced manufacturing technologies through the "valley of death." Such assessment is particularly challenging given that environmental and economic benefits are often accrued in other economic sectors (e.g., advanced composites will save energy in transportation, but not necessarily in manufacturing), which can create misalignment of incentives. This presentation will discuss a new prospective systems modeling approach that is being developed to address these challenges. The approach is based on a combination of input-output, techno-economic, and life-cycle modeling methods. Its utility for researchers, manufacturers, and policy makers will be illustrated in this presentation through case studies of promising next-generation materials and processes.

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