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It’s getting hot in here

28 June, 2024

No, we’re not talking about the heatwave. We’re talking heating. But if your home is currently too hot for comfort, don’t worry – this is about industrial heating, not central heating. Industrial heat needs far hotter heat than domestic heating, and we typically rely on fossil fuels to provide this. This makes it a huge opportunity for carbon reduction – the industrial sector accounts for a quarter of emissions in the US, and half of that is heat-related.

An MIT grad student, Daniel Stack, has come up with a neat solution. He has figured out how to store heat in bricks made from simple, cheap metal oxides that create a thermal battery, known as the Joule Hive Thermal Battery (JHTB). The bricks conduct electricity, which can then be used to generate and store heat – up to 1800 degrees Celsius in fact – hot enough to replace fossil fuels in industry. The great thing about the way JHTB stores, as well as generates, heat is that the bricks can be charged at off-peak times to reduce additional pressure on the electricity grid and balance the intermittency of renewable power sources. Essentially, this means compared to the energy demand of the battery, there is a lower additional demand on electricity sources, and renewables can be utilised round the clock.

We like to celebrate all climate innovation, and this feels like a big one. In fact, the US Department of Energy suggest that this simple solution could reduce industrial heat-related emissions by 70%. That’s getting us hot under the collar.

By Anna Heis

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