Industrial Process Electrification

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research

What it is

Industrial process electrification involves replacing fossil fuel-based processes with electric alternatives. This approach aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve energy efficiency, and promote a more sustainable industrial sector.

Impact on climate action

Industrial Process Electrification in Energy-Efficient Industrial Equipment catalyzes climate action by replacing fossil fuel-powered machinery with electric alternatives. By reducing emissions from industrial processes, this innovation mitigates carbon footprint, enhances energy efficiency, and accelerates the transition to a sustainable, low-carbon industrial sector, combating climate change.


  • Electric Heating Technologies: Electric heating technologies, such as induction heating, resistance heating, and electric arc furnaces, can replace fossil fuel-based heating processes in various industries.
  • Electric Motors and Drives: High-efficiency electric motors and variable-speed drives (VSDs) can replace fossil fuel-powered motors and engines, improving energy efficiency and reducing emissions.
  • Renewable Energy Integration: Electrification of industrial processes can facilitate the integration of renewable energy sources, such as solar PV and wind power, into industrial operations.
  • Energy Storage: Energy storage systems can be used to store excess renewable energy and provide a reliable power supply for electrified processes.
  • Process Optimization and Control: Advanced process control systems and digitalization tools can optimize the operation of electrified processes, maximizing efficiency and minimizing energy consumption.

TRL : 6-8 (depending on the specific technology and application)

Prominent Innovation themes

  • High-Temperature Heat Pumps: High-temperature heat pumps can recover waste heat from industrial processes and upgrade it to a higher temperature, making it suitable for use in other processes, reducing the need for fossil fuel-based heating.
  • Electrochemical Processes: Electrochemical processes, such as electrolysis and electrodialysis, can be used to replace traditional chemical processes, offering a cleaner and more efficient alternative.
  • Microwave and Plasma Technologies: Microwave and plasma technologies can be used for heating and processing materials, offering advantages in terms of precision and energy efficiency.
  • Electrified Transportation: Electrifying industrial vehicles, such as forklifts and trucks, can reduce emissions and improve air quality within industrial facilities.

Other Innovation Subthemes

  • Electric Heating Technologies
  • High-Efficiency Motors and Drives
  • Integration of Renewable Energy
  • Energy Storage Solutions
  • Advanced Process Control Systems
  • High-Temperature Heat Pumps
  • Electrochemical Process Innovation
  • Microwave and Plasma Technologies
  • Carbon-Neutral Steel Production
  • Direct Metal Oxide Reduction
  • Heavy-Duty Electric Motors
  • Industrial Energy Efficiency

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  1. Electra:
    • Technology Enhancement: Electra specializes in developing electrification solutions for industrial processes, aiming to replace fossil fuel-based energy sources with clean electricity. Their technology focuses on designing and implementing electric heating, cooling, and power systems tailored to the specific needs of industrial applications.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Electra stands out for its expertise in industrial process electrification and its focus on providing customized solutions for a wide range of industrial sectors. Their approach helps industrial facilities transition away from carbon-intensive energy sources, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and improve energy efficiency.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Electra serves industries such as manufacturing, chemicals, food processing, and metals processing that rely heavily on fossil fuels for energy. Their electrification solutions enable these industries to decarbonize their operations, comply with environmental regulations, and enhance sustainability.
  2. Boston Metal:
    • Technology Enhancement: Boston Metal specializes in electrifying high-temperature industrial processes, particularly in the steel and metals manufacturing sectors. Their technology, known as molten oxide electrolysis (MOE), enables the direct reduction of metal oxides using electricity, resulting in lower carbon emissions and energy consumption compared to traditional smelting methods.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Boston Metal stands out for its groundbreaking approach to industrial process electrification, which has the potential to revolutionize the steel and metals industry. By replacing carbon-intensive coke with clean electricity, their technology offers a pathway to decarbonization and sustainable metal production.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Boston Metal primarily targets steelmakers and metal manufacturers seeking to reduce their carbon footprint and transition to more sustainable production methods. Their electrification technology addresses the growing demand for low-carbon steel and metals in industries such as automotive, construction, and renewable energy.
  3. VOLTERRA Motors:
    • Technology Enhancement: VOLTERRA Motors specializes in electrifying industrial machinery and equipment, offering electric motor systems designed for heavy-duty applications. Their motors feature high power density, efficiency, and reliability, making them suitable for various industrial processes requiring torque and speed control.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: VOLTERRA Motors stands out for its focus on electrifying industrial machinery and equipment, contributing to the electrification of industrial processes. Their motors offer a clean and efficient alternative to internal combustion engines, diesel generators, and hydraulic systems, enabling industrial facilities to reduce emissions and operating costs.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: VOLTERRA Motors serves industries such as mining, construction, agriculture, and material handling that rely on heavy machinery and equipment. Their electric motor systems help these industries transition to cleaner and more sustainable power sources, improving operational efficiency and environmental performance.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT):
    • Research Focus: MIT is at the forefront of research on Industrial Process Electrification, focusing on developing advanced electrification technologies and strategies to decarbonize industrial processes and reduce energy consumption.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves the design and optimization of electric heating, cooling, and power systems for various industrial applications, including manufacturing, chemical processing, and materials production. They explore the integration of renewable energy sources, energy storage systems, and smart grid technologies to enable efficient and flexible electrification solutions.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work find applications in diverse industrial sectors, such as steelmaking, cement production, and paper manufacturing. By electrifying industrial processes, MIT’s research contributes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving energy efficiency, and enhancing the competitiveness and sustainability of industrial operations.
  2. Stanford University:
    • Research Focus: Stanford University conducts innovative research on Industrial Process Electrification, leveraging its expertise in energy systems engineering, materials science, and policy analysis to develop novel approaches for transitioning industrial energy systems to electricity-based alternatives.
    • Uniqueness: Their research encompasses the development of electrified heating, cooling, and power generation technologies tailored to the needs of specific industrial sectors. They also investigate the techno-economic feasibility, environmental impacts, and policy implications of industrial electrification pathways, considering factors such as resource availability, infrastructure requirements, and market dynamics.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in heavy industry, chemical manufacturing, and food processing. By advancing industrial process electrification, Stanford’s research supports the transition to a low-carbon economy, fosters innovation in clean energy technologies, and enhances energy security and resilience in industrial supply chains.
  3. RWTH Aachen University (Germany):
    • Research Focus: RWTH Aachen University is a leading institution in research on Industrial Process Electrification, leveraging its strong ties to industry and expertise in engineering, automation, and sustainability to develop tailored solutions for electrifying industrial processes.
    • Uniqueness: Their research spans the entire value chain of industrial electrification, from technology development and integration to system optimization and performance monitoring. They collaborate closely with industrial partners to identify opportunities for electrification, assess technical and economic feasibility, and implement scalable solutions that meet industry-specific requirements.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications across a wide range of industrial sectors, including automotive manufacturing, chemical production, and pharmaceuticals. By promoting industrial process electrification, RWTH Aachen University’s research contributes to reducing carbon emissions, improving resource efficiency, and fostering innovation in sustainable industrial practices.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

Industrial process electrification is being implemented in various industries, including steelmaking, chemical processing, and food production. For example, several steel companies are investing in electric arc furnaces to replace traditional blast furnaces, reducing carbon emissions and improving energy efficiency.