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Process heat accounts for more than 70 percent of energy consumption in industry and decarbonisation is difficult for many. While most still hope that hydrogen will somehow work, Sulzbacher Kraftblock GmbH says it is already showing that it can be done more cheaply, more safely and, above all, immediately. Proof of this is the replaced gas boiler in a food factory of the industry giant PepsiCo, which produces crisps for eight European countries in the Netherlands.

Nearly loss-free conversion

The Net-Zero Heat system installed instead is a combination of electrification and thermal storage. According to Kraftblock, the conversion of electricity to heat is almost loss-free, and the storage system allows electricity to be purchased when prices are low or negative. This not only converts the thermal process to green energy, but also saves the user operating costs.

A simple principle

The principle is simple: in so-called power-to-heat elements, resistance heaters on an industrial scale, electricity is converted into heat (up to 1,000 degrees Celsius) and blown into the storage unit. There, the power block material, a specially developed solid, absorbs the heat and stores it. If necessary, cold air is blown into the storage tank and heats up the material. The hot air is either fed directly into processes or regulated to the right temperature in other system components or used to generate steam or heat thermal oil and water.

High temperatures for low investment costs

The high temperatures are particularly suitable for achieving a high energy density - which in turn can reduce the size of the plant and thus the investment costs of the system. The heat can be stored for up to two weeks, and the capacity is said to be easily scalable from a few megawatt hours to many gigawatt hours thanks to the modular design of the storage units.

A solution for many industries

In this way, process heat, district heat and even heat for electricity generation in conventional power plants can be decarbonised at low cost. Numerous industrial sectors such as food, paper, breweries, chemicals, rubber and plastics, textiles and parts of the steel, metal processing and ceramics industries, as well as many other sectors, should be able to benefit. At the same time, the power grid will be relieved and the generation capacities of renewable energies will be fully utilised.