RTC Members and Solutions Providers Secure Federal Funding for Decarbonization Innovations

By Oren Lieber-Kotz

The RTC applauds our Members and Solutions Providers for securing federal funding for projects developing innovative solutions to decarbonize industry. In a critical stride towards reducing emissions, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Industrial Efficiency and Decarbonization Office (IEDO) announced $171 million for 49 projects in January 2024. Congratulations to project leads AtmosZero, Electrified Thermal Solutions, and the University of California (UC), and to project partners Kimberly-Clark, Mars, PepsiCo, Southern California Gas (SoCalGas), and Unilever.

These grants support cutting-edge decarbonization technologies applied across industrial sectors, including chemicals, iron and steel, food and beverage, cement and concrete, and forest products. This substantial funding announcement contributes to DOE’s Industrial Heat Shot and Clean Fuels & Products Shot initiatives, as well as the Biden Administration’s Investing in America agenda, and advances the nation towards its goal of a net-zero emissions economy by 2050 while reinforcing American leadership in manufacturing.

The funding will drive research, development, and pilot-scale validation of an array of renewable thermal technologies. RTC Members and Solutions Providers will use the awards to develop and deploy leading solutions through the following projects:

  • AtmosZero is developing a high-efficiency heat pump to produce steam at temperatures up to 200°C and provide cooling at less than 0°C.
  • Electrified Thermal Solutions will validate the performance and reliability of its Joule Hive™ Thermal Battery (JHTB) that uses electrically conductive firebricks to convert and store electricity as heat at temperatures above 1,700°C.
  • UC Riverside will lead a project developing a low-cost, low-carbon alternative to traditional kraft pulping for paper production.
  • UC Davis will lead the development of a synergetic method to use waste heat recovery for food and beverage processing.
  • UC San Diego will partner with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to enhance the efficiency of heat exchangers by improving the copper and aluminum pipes used within.
  • UC Irvine will partner with SoCalGas and the University of Wisconsin-Madison to demonstrate a first-of-its-kind integration of hydrogen into steel production.
  • SoCalGas, in a project led by the Colorado School of Mines, will develop and validate an efficient combined heat and power system running on low-carbon fuels.
  • Mars and Unilever, in a project led by Echogen Power Systems, will pilot a heat pump capable of heating air to over 300°C from ambient sources at high efficiencies.
  • PepsiCo will contribute to the University of Texas at Dallas’ development and demonstration of a super condenser harnessing waste heat from potato chip frying.
  • Kimberly-Clark will partner with the Georgia Institute of Technology to implement cost-effective electrical drying technologies for paper production.

These federal investments in applied research, development, and demonstration will help scale a range of technologies, all necessary to decarbonize process heat across the industrial economy. The awards for industrial heat pump projects align with the recently published RTC Electrification Action Plan, which lays out a strategy for widely expanding the adoption of this efficient technology in the United States. The awards for thermal storage also align with the RTC’s assessment that, if deployed to their maximum potential, thermal batteries can cut total U.S. emissions by 12%. Lastly, the awards for waste heat recovery and electrification of the food and beverage sector support actions on the opportunities identified by the RTC’s sector decarbonization playbook to reduce emissions in the near term.

By working with each other and the Department of Energy to advance electrification, thermal efficiency, and green hydrogen technologies, the RTC’s Members and Solutions Providers exemplify how collaboration can lead the way toward decarbonized industry and a sustainable economy.