DOE to Invest $26 Million in Industrial Energy Efficiency Projects

August 22, 2008

DOE announced on August 22 that it will invest up to $26 million in eight projects to develop energy-efficient industrial processes that will replace current energy-intensive processes. Two projects relate to the steel industry: developing an energy-efficient alternative to the blast furnace and developing a method to recover waste heat from steel reheating furnaces, by using the waste heat to convert some of the natural gas fuel into hydrogen, which provides more energy to the combustion process than natural gas. For the automotive industry, a project will investigate the use of intense pressure waves to shape body panels, rather than employing a stamp. For refineries, a project will develop membranes to recover the hydrogen typically lost in hydrotreating processes, which are used to remove sulfur from motor fuels. And all industries will benefit from an effort to develop high-efficiency industrial motors based on permanent magnets.

The remaining three projects will investigate ways to accomplish feats that usually involve high temperatures, including using membranes to separate water from ethanol, rather than boiling and distilling the mixture; inducing electrical currents in thermoplastic composites to soften them, rather than using heat; and employing electrical induction and magnetic heating to shape and harden metals, rather than using a forge. DOE will invest its funds over the next 3 years, subject to congressional appropriations, while an additional $15.3 million will be provided by the award recipients and their industry partners. See the DOE press release.

DOE's Industrial Technology Program's Energy Intensive Processes Initiative seeks to reduce carbon emissions and improve energy efficiency in the most energy-consuming manufacturing processes by developing and promoting technologies that can be applied in many industrial settings. The industrial sector consumes approximately one-third of the energy used in the United States, and accounts for 28% of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions. See the Industrial Technologies Program Web site.