What is Process Heating?

Process heating is used to raise or maintain the temperature of materials in manufacturing processes. For example, process heating technologies supply thermal energy to transform raw materials like limestone, metallic ores, and silica into materials like cement, iron, glass, and other intermediates, leading to a wide variety of industrial and consumer products.

Why is RD&D into Process Heating Important?

Heating is the process responsible for the largest energy demand and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the manufacturing sector. In 2018, process heating accounted for 51% of the energy used onsite and 31% of the energy- and process-related GHG emissions sector-wide.

Since about one-third of the energy consumed in process heating is ultimately lost as waste heat, innovative heating methods have the potential to improve overall energy efficiency. Electromagnetic heating, for example, can reduce thermal losses by delivering energy directly into materials, with less heat lost to the environment. Lowering the amount of energy used and wasted can reduce costs to American businesses and increase manufacturing productivity.

Technologies to decarbonize process heat can have other benefits including improved air quality. Fossil fuel combustion emits harmful pollutants such as nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter, which have been shown to worsen health in communities around industrial facilities. Addressing pollution from fossil-fuel based process heating is therefore integral to achieving energy and environmental justice.

IEDO Research in Process Heating

In support of DOE’s Industrial Heat Shot, IEDO funds research, development, and deployment (RD&D) projects to reduce energy use and GHG emissions from process heating. Addressing the wide variety of processes and industries, often with unique and common process heating requirements, will require a portfolio of low- and zero-carbon solutions, including:

  • Electrification of process heating, such as electromagnetic heating technologies which can reduce energy losses by delivering heat directly into the target material
  • Use of clean sources of thermal energy such as clean hydrogen and biofuels
  • Transformative low- or no-heat technologies, which achieve similar end products to current processes while using significantly less thermal energy
  • Waste heat management technologies such as industrial heat pumps
  • Flexible combined heat and power (CHP) systems, which allow facilities to adjust the ratio of heat generation to power generation as needed

This portfolio approach to developing decarbonization technologies for process heating will enable individual plants to determine the best options for their needs, given the application, economics, geography, and other factors.


Funding Opportunities

Additional Resources