CLEMSON — The Walmart Foundation and the U.S. Conference of Mayors announced Clemson University as one of this year’s U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund grant recipients for the school’s sustainable water and oil repellency fabric technology. Clemson University will receive more than $420,000 from the Walmart Foundation. The 2017 round of grants are focused on innovations in textile manufacturing processes.

“The Walmart Foundation is making a major contribution to manufacturing in the U.S. through its continuing financial and informational support to textile and apparel technologies,” said Chris Cole, professor emerita of materials science and engineering at Clemson. “We are so grateful to the Walmart Foundation and U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund for investing in our research program — an area not funded by other sources and one that has many important scientific, economic and environmental implications.”

Clemson University is one of six universities that will collectively receive nearly $3 million in grants from the fund this year to support research proposals that strive to create new manufacturing technologies and reduce the cost of producing goods in the U.S. with the ultimate goal of creating jobs that support America’s growing manufacturing base. The fund was formed in 2014 to provide a total of $10 million in grants to focus specifically on advancing the production or assembly of consumer products in the U.S. Clemson University was also awarded in 2016 for the school’s energy-efficient process for the dyeing of polyester fabrics. This is the third and final round of grants awarded by Walmart and the Walmart Foundation for the Fund. The other winning universities are listed here.

“This type of research and development, supported by the Walmart Foundation and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, will advance textile manufacturing in the U.S. at the same time that it brings important changes for the operations and technologies of local manufacturers and restores our region’s historical role as a major player in the textile industry nationally and globally,” said Spartanburg Mayor Junie White.

As part of this round of grants from the fund, the Walmart Foundation granted $422,549 to Clemson University for their proposal to create a more sustainable water and oil repellant fabric process. The process will significantly reduce costs while using no additional finishing chemistry, significantly reducing the amount of fluorochemistry required.

“Advancing the production or assembly of consumer products in the U.S. is the number one goal of the Innovation Fund,” said Kathleen McLaughlin, president of the Walmart Foundation and chief sustainability officer for Walmart. “As these projects come to fruition over the next few years, we hope the research not only enables cost-effective solutions for manufacturers, but also improves the sustainability of the U.S. textile industry.”

Support for the U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund complements Walmart’s larger commitment to help revitalize U.S. manufacturing. In January 2013, Walmart announced a commitment to buy an additional $250 billion in products that support U.S. jobs by 2023.

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