What is Industrial Energy Efficiency?

Innovative energy efficient industrial technologies require less energy to perform the same or similar function as current technologies.

A particularly important opportunity to improve energy efficiency is in developing technologies to recover, store, and/or use waste heat. In 2018, 12 quadrillion British thermal units (“quads”) of thermal energy were used onsite in the manufacturing sector in 2018, with 7 quads of total energy lost as waste, according to a Manufacturing Energy and Carbon Footprint analysis. While energy losses cannot be brought to zero, limiting losses and reducing final energy demand both offer pathways to decarbonize manufacturing and reduce costs.

Why is RD&D in Industrial Energy Efficiency Important?

In 2020, the U.S. industrial sector accounted for about 1/3 of the nation’s primary energy use and energy-related CO2 emissions. Without intervention, industrial sector energy demand could grow 30% by 2050—increasing CO2 emissions by 17%, according to data from the Energy Information Agency. This is why lowering primary energy demand is key to achieving short-term emissions targets and achieving economy-wide net zero emissions by 2050.

Adopting energy efficient industrial technologies allows manufacturers to:

  • Reduce their carbon footprints
  • Lower costs, raise productivity, and improve shareholder value
  • Improve performance
  • Meet environmental standards
  • Create energy efficient products and market opportunities
  • Improve their competitive position
  • Attract top talent looking to work for a company aligned with their values

Ensure better community relations and an overall better reputation with consumers.

IEDO Research in Industrial Energy Efficiency

IEDO supports the research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) of technologies that reduce primary energy demand and minimize losses. 

Technology areas pursued by IEDO include:

  • Process intensification to combine separate unit operations into a single technology, resulting in a more efficient, cleaner, and more economical manufacturing process
  • Energy efficient technologies with applications in multiple industries that use low-carbon fuels and energy sources or clean electricity
  • Low- or no-heat process technologies which achieve similar end products to current processes while utilizing significantly less thermal energy, such as mechanical separations or electrochemical processes
  • Flexible combined heat and power (CHP), which generates electricity and heat on-site and allows the ratio of electricity to heat to be varied as needed

Industrial heat pumps, which can upgrade waste heat to useful temperatures using a relatively small amount of energy, ultimately resulting in net energy savings.