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On-demand electric heat can reach near-flame temperatures

| By Mary Page Bailey

Electrification provides an avenue for industrial decarbonization, but many electric-heating options cannot handle the high temperatures and scale required for industrial use. Electrified Thermal Solutions (ETS; Medford, Mass.; has taken a new approach to industrial heating through its JouleHive thermal battery, which can achieve near-flame temperatures continuously without degradation. The heart of JouleHive is the company’s proprietary electrically conductive fire bricks (E-bricks). “With all existing electric-heating options, the hotter you run them, the faster they will oxidize and break down. Our oxide bricks don’t burn out like other electric heating options,” explains Daniel Stack, CEO and co-founder of ETS.

A JouleHive “E-brick” (Source: ETS)

To overcome the limitations of existing heaters with oxide bricks, ETS is employing alumina chromium mixtures for the foundation of the bricks, which are then subjected to a special series of doping techniques to enhance electric conductivity. “These are materials that are mass-produced today and are among the most chemically stable for operating with air and CO2. Because we can operate in any of these gaseous environments, we avoid the need for inert environments and metallic heat exchangers. This is what allows us to run cheaper and be more scalable,” says Stack.

The company currently operates an engineering-scale JouleHive system cycling at 1,700°C in an elevator-sized box filled with E-bricks. When electricity is applied to a JouleHive system — whether continuously or intermittently — the E-bricks convert it to heat, and by blowing air through it, on-demand hot gas is generated, which can flow to any kind of furnace, boiler or kiln. Plans are in place to install a commercial demonstration system at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Tex. this year. ETS and its partners Ashland Chemical and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) were recently awarded a $35-million grant from the U.S. Dept. of Energy for a project to decarbonize steam generation at an Ashland production site. The project team estimates that this system’s deployment could result in 70% decarbonization of the plant.