Feeding the energy hungry industries - RINA.org

Feeding the energy hungry industries

05 Jan 2021

As the energy intensive industries face challenges in order to mitigate CO2 emissions, breakthrough technologies can contribute to their decarbonisation

Around 25% of all global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are produced by industry. However, today, investments in zero-emission technologies are rapidly catching up with investments in fossil fuel energy.

The energy-hungry or so-called energy intensive industries (EII) face important challenges in order to mitigate their CO2 emissions: the application of best available technologies (BATs) will only be able to reduce emissions by 15–30%. Reductions beyond this limit will require new investment and fundamental changes in the core processes used. Furthermore, the latter will be based on new ‘breakthrough technologies’ that need further development to become both technically and commercially viable.

RINA has been a pioneer in alternative iron ore reduction, and hydrogenbased steel production. In the 1980s, it designed and realised one of the first plasma-based reducing furnaces in Europe which it still operates today. Today RINA is a leading technological innovator in the reduction of energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions by the energy intensive industries (EII). Among the many projects RINA is involved in, we can mention:

  • GreenEAF: (EU-funded project) this is focused on the application of char from biomass as a fossil coal substitute in steelmaking. This brings significant reductions in CO2 emissions, and will stimulate the development of new business opportunities (15% of CO2 emission reduction is achieved through biomass utilization);
  • LowCarbonFuture: (EU-funded project) this is a dissemination project aimed at defining a road map for industry decarbonisation (up to 95%, according to ongoing innovative European projects);
  • Polynspire: (EU funded project) this project is aimed at the exploitation of low-grade plastics (representing more than 350,000 tons per year in Italy); such materials, which are discharged from the recycling route, can be used as carbon bearing materials replacing fossil coal (an example of industrial symbiosis and the circular economy).

Industry decarbonisation, and the application of breakthrough technologies, will require the following: optimization of production cycles and efficiency improvements, waste heat recovery, the utilization of renewable sources, the application of carbon capture and storage, and the utilization of green hydrogen as a substitute to fossil fuel materials.

RINA is able to support the EII in developing and implementing technological solutions to reduce CO2. This support can range from analysis of available technologies, to the definition of alternative technological solutions. It is also able to use Digital Twin processes to assess new technological solutions, carry out R&D activities on behalf of the EII on new technologies, identify the most suitable funding schemes, and prepare research proposals. RINA can also assist with full industrial process digitalization with 4.0 solutions, coupled with Machine Learning and Big Data Analysis.

Pietro Gimondo