The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) is dedicated to improving the energy and material efficiency, productivity, and competitiveness of American manufacturing and the industrial sector. EERE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) works to increase the energy efficiency of manufacturing, promote manufacturing competitiveness, and increase resilience and sustainability. AMO’s industrial decarbonization efforts support the Biden-Harris administration’s wider goals for American industry, as well as the Justice40 initiative, a whole-of-government commitment to deliver 40% of relevant federal investment benefits to disadvantaged communities.
What is Industrial Decarbonization?
Industrial decarbonization is the phasing out of atmospheric greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from all aspects of industry without compromising the industrial sector’s vital contributions to national economic competitiveness and prosperity. Decarbonizing the industrial sector, which currently accounts for 30% of all domestic GHG emissions, is a critical component of the Biden-Harris administration’s plan to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
AMO is investing in the research, demonstration, and deployment of new technologies; sponsoring technical assistance programs for workers; and facilitating the deployment of proven decarbonization concepts in the industrial sector. In January 2022, AMO issued a request for information on how America’s manufacturing sector can reduce emissions while making technologies that will power the clean economy and increase competitiveness on the global stage.
Which Industries Are Most in Need of Decarbonization?
AMO has identified the five most energy-intensive sectors in American industry, all of which can significantly reduce their GHG emissions through the use of efficient, emissions-reduction technologies. They are:
- Chemical Manufacturing: 20% of industrial CO2 emissions; 24% of industrial energy consumption.
- Petroleum Refining: 17% of industrial CO2 emissions; 15% of industrial energy consumption
- Iron and Steel: 7% of industrial CO2 emissions; 5% of industrial energy consumption
- Food and Beverage: 6% of industrial CO2 emissions; 5% of industrial energy consumption
- Cement: 2% of industrial CO2 emissions; 1% of industrial energy consumption
What Methods Can Help Achieve Industrial Decarbonization?
AMO has identified four key strategies to accelerate industrial emissions reductions:
- Energy Efficiency
- Industrial Electrification
- Low-Carbon Fuels, Feedstocks, and Energy Sources (LCFFES)
- Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage (CCUS)
Energy efficiency is a foundational decarbonization strategy and the most cost-effective option for GHG emission reductions in the near term. Methods for achieving decarbonization through energy efficiency include:
- Strategic energy management to optimize performance of industrial processes at the system-level
- Systems management and optimization of thermal heat from manufacturing process heating, boiler, and combined heat and power (CHP) sources
- Smart manufacturing and advanced data analytics to increase energy productivity in manufacturing processes
Making use of recent advancements in low-carbon electricity, from both grid and on-site renewable generation sources, will be critical to industrial decarbonization efforts. These include:
- Electrification of process heat using induction, radiative heating, or advanced heat pumps
- Electrification of high-temperature range processes such as those found in iron, steel, and cement making
- Replacing thermally-driven processes with electrochemical ones
Low-Carbon Fuels, Feedstocks, and Energy Sources
Substituting low-and no-carbon fuel and feedstocks reduces combustion-associated emissions for industrial processes. DOE’s efforts on this front include:
- Development of fuel-flexible processes
- Integration of hydrogen fuels and feedstocks into industrial applications
- The use of biofuels and bio feedstocks
Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage
Carbon capture, utilization, and storage is a multi-component strategy for capturing generated carbon dioxide (CO2) from a point source and using the captured CO2 to make new products or storing it long-term to avoid release into the atmosphere. Components of this strategy include:
- Post-combustion chemical absorption of CO2
- Development and manufacturing optimization of advanced CO2 capture materials that improve efficiency and lower cost of capture
- Development of processes to utilize captured CO2 to manufacture new materials
To learn more about DOE’s decarbonization initiatives in manufacturing and the industrial sector, visit the Advanced Manufacturing Office homepage and subscribe to the AMO newsletter for monthly updates.