Electrification of Industrial Processes with Sulfur Electric Thermal Storage

In this project, Element 16 technologies proposes to solve this problem and enable electrification of industrial processes through integration of a low-cost and dispatchable sulfur electric thermal storage (SETS) to renewable energy such as solar

Element 16 Technologies, Inc

Recipient

CA

Recipient Location

25th

Senate District

43rd

Assembly District

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$621,413

Amount Spent

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Active

Project Status

Project Update

Element 16 has completed the activities planned for system engineering design under EPC-21-036 and is moving ahead with installation and testing. This includes finalizing the system design and layout, completing the piping and instrumentation diagram, and heat and mass balance sheets for various operating scenarios. Element 16 is also pursuing opportunities to install thermal energy storage for industrial process heat charging from the electric grid. For this, Element 16 met with experts in grid storage strategies and grid pricing at multiple independent system operators.

The Issue

In California, process heating accounts for approximately 85% of industrial energy use, which is primarily provided by fossil fuel combustion and contributes to roughly one-fourth of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). As the prices of renewable electricity such as solar PV, wind, and electric equipment continue to drop, industrial electrification to meet the demand for heat offers cost-saving and GHG-emission-reduction opportunities. Electrification of industrial processes does not require a fundamental change in the industrial process setup, but rather a replacement of a piece of equipment, such as a boiler, running on conventional fuel with a piece of electric heating equipment. Nevertheless, the primary challenge with the adoption of renewables is intermittency and fluctuating generation that reduces its capacity factor, decreases its reliability to supply stable, inexpensive, and on-demand heat, and increases the levelized cost of energy, which can be addressed through the development of a low-cost and dispatchable thermal energy storage.

Project Innovation

The project aims to enable the electrification of industrial processes using renewable energy such as solar PV-assisted electrotechnology integrated with low-cost sulfur electric thermal energy storage. The proposed research and development activities and pilot testing will validate the capability of molten sulfur thermal electric storage to store electricity and discharge heat in the temperature range of 120 to 250 degrees Celsius for various industrial applications including process heat, cooling, and electricity generation.

Project Benefits

Element 16 technologies propose to solve this problem and enable the electrification of industrial processes through the integration of a low-cost and dispatchable sulfur electric thermal storage with renewable energy such as solar photovoltaic-assisted electrotechnology, both directly integrated and charging from the electric grid to support the “duck curve”. Sulfur is an incredibly cheap commodity (since it is a byproduct of oil refining) and the average price is $80/ton (sulfur is 14-16 times less than molten salt). Sulfur costs 40-80 $/ton, which is very cheap compared to the 1,000-2,000 $/ton for molten salts – the existing solution. Our product leverages sulfur’s low cost and patented single-tank heat storage design to produce high-quality process steam. Sulfur has a lower freezing point than molten salts, and attractive energy capacity and thermal transport properties, which combine to make SETS the best solution for efficient and inexpensive energy storage technology. The proposed concept will increase system resiliency to provide on-demand/flexible heat supply to meet the individual requirements of the industrial process and achieve lower levelized cost from solar PV thus increasing the share of renewable energy and reducing the CO2 footprint of industrial processes.

Greater Reliability

Reliability

This Agreement will result in the ratepayer benefits of greater reliability, lower costs and increased safety by reducing fuel consumption and lowering the amount of GHG emissions. By capturing excess renewable energy generation for later reuse, SETS reduces or avoids the curtailment of renewable energy and displace the use of fossil fuels to generate electricity or process heat.

Key Project Members

Hamarz Aryafar

Hamarz Aryafar

CTO
Parker Wells

Parker Wells

CEO
Karthik Nithyanandam

Karthik Nithyanandam

Director of Engineering

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