The U.S. Department of Energy has selected Arizona State University to receive up to $70 million to establish a new Clean Energy Manufacturing Innovation Institute devoted to the challenge of fighting greenhouse gas emissions from industrial process heating. ASU will lead the multi-institution effort known as Electrified Processes for Industry Without Carbon, or EPIXC.
“The industrial sector accounts for more than 30% of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions, and fossil fuel-driven process heating — from pasteurizing milk to melting steel — is the most significant contributor to those emissions,” said Sridhar Seetharaman, vice dean for research and innovation in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at ASU and the director of EPIXC.
Seetharaman said the new institute will support expanded use of clean electricity for process heating — the thermal energy used to prepare materials and produce manufactured goods — and a dramatic reduction of CO2 emissions across industrial sectors, including iron and steel, chemicals, petroleum, food and beverage, forest products and cement. It will operate as a public-private partnership conducting innovative research, development, demonstration and deployment of relevant technologies as well as necessary workforce training.
“Additionally, this is part of society’s broader transition to clean energy, and we need to look at the social justice aspects of what we are doing,” Seetharaman said. “Our current energy landscape positioned petrochemical plants in an unjust way. Certain communities suffered health consequences from their proximity, and they continue to suffer from them. As we move forward with the new energy landscape, we need to make it happen in a truly just manner.”
Alongside ASU’s leadership of EPIXC, key partners include the University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University, Pennsylvania State University, Stanford University, Missouri University of Science and Technology, Tuskegee University, North Carolina State University, Navajo Technical University, Idaho National Laboratory, the National Energy Technology Laboratory, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. KB Science provided strategic guidance for the proposal’s development.
EPIXC joins the DOE’s six other Manufacturing USA institutes, which convene the nation’s brightest minds to solve the country’s toughest manufacturing challenges and move novel electrification processes out of the lab and into the market.
“The enhancement of energy efficiency in industrial manufacturing processes poses a complex array of technical and societal challenges,” said Kyle Squires, ASU’s vice provost of engineering, computing and technology and dean of the Fulton Schools. “We look forward to leading the development of clean energy heating solutions for industry, leveraging our outstanding faculty, strong partnerships and the support of the community.
“Our commitment extends beyond technological advancements as we also anticipate fostering the growth of a new generation of engineering leaders who will drive the necessary technology innovations in an equitable fashion to achieve the greatest possible benefit to the communities we serve.”
“This strong array of academic, community and industry partners will propel the EPIXC team to groundbreaking impact via scientific and technological leadership, workforce development and just energy transition,” said Sally C. Morton, executive vice president of Knowledge Enterprise at ASU. “These objectives fit squarely within the responsibility and mandate of the New American University, and ASU is honored to lead this Manufacturing USA institute for the nation.”
EPIXC is funded through the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Industrial Efficiency and Decarbonization Office.