DOE Releases Roadmap for Decarbonizing America’s Industrial Sector

Published On
Sep 27, 2022

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released an “Industrial Decarbonization Roadmap,” announcing $104 million to advance emission reduction technology that can decarbonize the nation’s industrial sector. 

The report highlights the urgent need to reduce carbon emissions and pollution in American manufacturing. In 2021, the industrial sector produced one-third of domestic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which is more than the annual emissions of 631 million gasoline-powered cars, according to a September 2022 DOE press release.

This report is part of the DOE’s larger industrial decarbonization agenda, which includes the Biden Administration’s allocation of $7 million from the bipartisan infrastructure law, focusing on decarbonizing manufacturing, the 7th Clean Energy Manufacturing Institute, working to electrify process heat, and the Industrial Technology Innovation Advisory Committee, advising the DOE on industrial emissions reductions technologies. It also builds on the Inflation Reduction Act, which provides $10 billion in clean energy manufacturing tax credits, $5.8 billion for industrial facilities and new monitoring and screening for communities near these facilities.

The roadmap aims to “create good-paying jobs for American workers, spur economic growth and create a cleaner, more equitable future,” according to the release.

It outlines four pathways for government, industry and other stakeholders to accelerate industrial emissions reductions: (1) energy efficiency; (2) industrial electrification; (3) low-carbon fuels, feedstocks and energy sources (LCFFES); and (4) carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS), which together can reduce GHG emissions for the near- and long-term.

“America’s industrial sector is critical to our economy and daily lives, yet it currently accounts for an enormous portion of greenhouse gas emissions, and is particularly difficult to decarbonize,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm said in the press release.

DOE’s roadmap emphasizes five energy-intensive sectors where industrial decarbonization efforts can have the biggest impact. These industries—iron and steel, cement and concrete, food and beverage, chemical manufacturing, and petroleum refining—represent 51% of energy-related emissions in the industrial sector, according to the release.

The roadmap offers many opportunities for ECs, from electrification of systems, to analyzing and tracking efficiency measures, to reducing packaging waste in manufacturing. DOE’s workforce development and technical assistance programs can prepare the 11.4 million Americans working in manufacturing for the clean industry transition, according to the press release.

The first pathway, the most cost-effective option for near-term GHG emission reductions, is ensuring energy-efficiency, the release stated. This can be accomplished by implementing energy management strategies that optimize the performance of system-wide industrial processes; managing thermal heat from manufacturing process heating, boiler and combined heat and power sources; and increasing energy productivity with smart manufacturing and advanced data analytics.

Decarbonizing industrial electrification from both grid and on-site renewable sources is the second pathway. This will involve electrification of process heat using induction, radiative heating or advanced heating pumps; electrification of high-temperature range processes, including production of iron, steel and cement; and swapping thermally driven processes for electrochemical processes.

Reducing combustion emissions produced from industrial processes requires substituting low- and no-carbon fuel and feedstocks. LCFFES, the third pathway outlined by DOE, involves developing fuel-flexible processes, integrating hydrogen fuels and feedstocks into industrial applications and using green hydrogen, biofuels and biofeedstocks.

The fourth pathway, CCUS, means capturing generated carbon dioxide and then either using this captured CO2 to create products or storing it long-term. This process can include permanent geologic storage and developing processes to use captured CO2 to manufacture new materials, developing post-combustion chemical absorption of CO2 or developing advanced CO2-capture materials to lower cost and improve efficiency.

The Industrial Decarbonization Roadmap also highlights six recommendations for research, development and demonstration (RD&D) investment opportunities: (1) implementing additional applied science through advanced early-stage RD&D to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050; (2) funding multiple process strategies, including electrification, efficiency, low-carbon fuels, CCUS and other alternative approaches; (3) accelerating deployment and reducing risk with additional testbed demonstrations; (4) addressing fuel combustion for heat, which causes most industrial emissions; (5) focusing solutions on the systems impact that carbon-reduction technology will have on the supply chain; and (6) expanding the use of life cycles, modeling and techno-economic and systems analyses.

About the Author

Marlena Chertock

Freelance Writer

Marlena Chertock is a former editorial intern at Electrical Contractor magazine who now writes for the magazine as a freelance journalist. Her articles have appeared in The Washington Post, Marketplace, NBC News, News21, WTOP and The Gazette. Contact...

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