ETA 2021 Strategic Plan - Flipbook - Page 29
When synthesizing polymers, on the other
hand, it is often necessary to evaporate large
quantities of solvents or cure deposited
polymers that could be in many different
possible three-dimensional form factors. This is
often done radiatively using thermal photons,
particularly at higher temperatures where the
T4 scaling law of radiation is dominant. This
creates the opportunity to leverage materials’
spectrally varying absorption and emission
curves, to improve efficiency of heat transfer
by customizing the spectral band in which the
thermal radiation is emitted. The Science of
Synthesis will therefore also focus on tailoring
the spectral ranges of photon absorption and
emission for polymers and other high-value
synthesized organic compounds to allow for
more efficient thermal processes.
Science of Scale-up
Scaling the generation and transport of thermal
energy into and out of different manufacturing
processes is nontrivial, and has taken decades
of infrastructure development to make possible.
ETA will build on its core competency in
multimodal heat transport to understand how
different kinds of candidate renewable heat
sources scale, where the potential bottlenecks
lie, and what will be necessary to overcome
them. We will use system modeling and
benchtop prototyping experiments to investigate
the potential of the most promising carbonfree thermal energy feedstocks for large scale
ETA will investigate solar thermal technologies
for the carbon-free production of lowtemperature industrial heat, and investigate
electrical Joule heating using green electrons
and cost-effective combustion of green and
blue hydrogen for higher temperature industrial
process heat. In all cases, we will emphasize the
feasibility of modular technologies that are easy
to scale. We will identify the key technological
barriers that make scaling each renewable heat
source challenging, and investigate solution
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strategies. For example, we will model and
experimentally test how the fluid mechanics of
swirl burner flow patterns changes at different
scales. We’ll also model and test the trade-off
between solar concentration ratios and solar
absorber selectivities for different scales and
target temperature solar thermal systems.
To deploy any thermal energy source at
industrial scales, it will be necessary to provide
reliable power 24/7. If this power is to come
from intermittent renewable sources such as
electrical Joule heating using green electrons,
it will be necessary to store large quantities of
thermal energy to create dispatchability for
times of low-power production. ETA will leverage
its expertise in thermal energy storage (TES) to
study the scaling of TES at both low and high
temperatures and where the thermal time
constants, charge and discharge rates, and
amortization of capital all follow different and
often application-specific scaling laws.
Intelligent, Adaptive Analysis
Shifting from fossil-fuel heat to renewable
heat while keeping the basic science of various
electrothermal synthesis processes the same
is less challenging than trying to modify
the process itself to no longer require heat.
However, the shift to a renewable source of
heat is still not free, and we will perform careful
techno-economic analyses to weigh the tradeoffs of different approaches to decarbonizing
industrial heat. These TEA models will consider
the price of heat coming from different green
sources (e.g., solar thermal, green and blue
hydrogen, Joule heating of green electrons), the
reliability and expected infrastructure lifetime
of each source, the availability and cost of
retrofitting opportunities, and how these and
other considerations stack up against alternative
approaches such as the Electrochemical
Refinery. These analyses will help to determine
which thermochemical synthesis routes have the
flexibility to incorporate zero-carbon sources of
heat without losing economic viability.
SHORT (6 MONTHS–2 YEARS)
• Execute a demonstration of bench-scale, novel, low-carbon processes for chemical and material
production offering the potential for integration with renewable energy sources.
• Develop techno-economic and life-cycle analysis framework and modeling capabilities for
evaluating novel synthesis methods and recovery of key materials for manufacturing.
• Integrate efforts with U.S. Department of Energy advanced manufacturing and plastic waste
MEDIUM (3–5 YEARS)
• Develop and analyze larger-scale technology processes.
• Develop a portfolio of projects dedicated toward electrochemical refining, hydrogen combustion,
new material and thermal fluid development, and circular manufacturing strategies.
LONG (5 YEARS AND BEYOND)
• Shorten by tenfold the design-build-test-learn cycle for key materials in manufacturing.
• Commercialize Berkeley Lab technology prototypes.
• Conduct an integrated research program combining automated platforms for novel chemical/
material synthesis, testing, and systems analysis.
• Establish Berkeley Lab as a leader in the development of carbon-efficient, circular manufacturing
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