ECN part of TNO is developing solutions to make the energy system in industry more sustainable through the use of heat pumps, CO2 capture and ultra-deep geothermal energy, among other things. In addition, we are working on new energy-saving production processes that emit far less CO2.
Our industry still depends almost entirely on fossil fuels and raw materials. It consumes around thirty percent of all our energy and is also responsible for a third of all CO2 emissions. ECN part of TNO develops solutions to make industry's energy management more sustainable and to reduce CO2 emissions to zero over the longer term.
We focus on reducing energy consumption by industry, using electricity instead of fossil fuels for production processes, and capturing and useful recycling of CO2. By joining forces as an applied research institute with the process and manufacturing industry as well as the political community, we should be able to succeed in halving industrial CO2 emissions by 2030.
On the way to a sustainable, circular, innovative and robust industry, ECN part of TNO has defined four routes.
• Electrification of production processes
The fossil fuels in industry will soon have to be completely replaced by sustainably generated electricity. Electrification of production processes is unavoidable to make industry CO2-neutral. This requires new technologies, among other things to integrate the highly fluctuating supply of renewable electricity into the industrial process.
• Sustainable heat management
If sustainable production processes are to be achieved, heat pumps, reuse of residual heat, geothermal energy and combinations of these are essential. The industry can then kill two birds with one stone: contributing to the sustainability of heat management while saving energy and money. We are also developing concepts to make it possible to switch between gas and renewable electricity during the industrial process.
• Capture, reuse and storage of CO2
As long as energy-intensive sectors such as steel, refining and chemicals are still dependent on fossil fuels and raw materials, it is important to capture and reuse the CO2 that is released. What is not usable can be stored safely, for example in depleted natural gas fields in the North Sea. In the long term, we may even need negative CO2 emissions, something that can be obtained by, for example, storing the CO2 that is released in the use of biomass.
• Efficiency and circularity
Many industrial processes are not being optimised from an environmental perspective. By making industrial processes efficient and circular, they require less energy and raw materials and release fewer emissions and waste products. ECN part of TNO is working on conversion and separation technologies for this whereby reaction and separation are combined in a single reactor, making the process much more compact and requiring considerably less energy.