Inside of a manufacturing plant and colorful machinary.

Electrified heating technologies RD&D

EPIXC fosters partnerships and collaborative RD&D that enable electric heating technologies at different temperatures and for broad application areas, with the intent of accelerating deployment and boosting impact.

Examples of technical innovations and technologies include:

  • Radiofrequency volumetric heating of catalyst beds in reactors carrying out endothermic reactions. Volumetric heating has the co-benefits of improving energy efficiency, selectivity and reducing catalyst coking. It provides precise control over temperature ramp rates, which can reduce thermal stress on costly reactor casings, prolonging their service life.
  • Periodic operation of distillation columns, which improves energy efficiency and reduces cost by taking advantage of lower cost renewable electricity.
  • Plasma and resistive heating at high temperatures and in difficult environments, addressing challenges related to heat transfer in such systems such as handling of multi-phase mixtures, including solids.

EPIXC will convene manufacturers, academic researchers, equipment suppliers, and engineering, procurement, and construction companies, among others, to elucidate the deployment, replication, and supply chain challenges of electric heating. The research strategy is informed by the frequency of applications (e.g. 60% of the energy expended in process heating is for applications at 300°C or below) and the readiness levels of available technologies and will focus on demonstration projects at the pilot scale. At the same time, projects in this area will serve as important sources of information for shaping the content and delivery of the EPIXC education and workforce development programs, and offer experiential learning for initial worker cohorts at multiple skill levels (construction, operation, engineering, optimization, etc.).

Industrial applications of electric heating involve diverse materials that are processed at varying temperatures and require different heat rates. Several electric technologies exist, e.g., resistive (based on Ohm’s law), electric arc, plasma, electromagnetic. Established technologies include electric boilers for heating at relatively low temperatures (<300°C, which represents about 60% of the total energy spent on process heating). Still, their scale-up and broad adoption in relevant industries remain unproven. The development of electric heating technology at the “top end” of the processing temperature range (800->1600°C) lags, particularly as it pertains to difficult environments such as those encountered in the cement and steel industries (except well-established arc heating for steel, generally applied to scrap melting furnaces).