Finnish engineering company Coolbrook Oy has been granted loan financing by Nefco to launch a ‘game-changing’ technology which may cut industrial carbon emissions by 30%.
Although there is a lot of green electricity in the world, most existing electrical heating technologies struggle to achieve the very high temperatures needed in industries such as steel, iron, cement, petrochemicals and chemicals. The high temperatures needed are amost always reached by burning fossil fuels, so it’s perhaps no surprise these industries generate more than 60% of all CO2 emissions from industry.
Founded in 2011, Coolbrook has developed a new technology, dubbed RotoDynamic, which is currently the only electric heating technology that has the potential to reach 1,700°C without the use of fossil fuels, according to the firm. The development for this technology was started by a group of rocket engineers in the late 1990s.
The financing from Nefco, the Nordic Green Bank, will help Coolbrook to speed up the decarbonisation of heavy industries, according to Mikko Jaatinen, the Finnish company’s chief financial officer.
“Nefco’s loan financing will support the commercialisation and scale-up of Coolbrook’s RotoDynamic Heater technology, which is aimed for electrification and decarbonisation of high-temperature industrial processes in, for example, cement, iron and steel, and chemicals,” Jaatinen told Impact Investor.
‘Commercial deployment in 2025’
Coolbrook’s RotoDynamic technology, which combines space science and turbomachinery with chemical engineering, is currently being tested in the Netherlands across various industrial sectors.
“The successful completion of Coolbrook’s test programme to demonstrate the RotoDynamic Heater technology, announced in September, enables the technology to move forward to industrial scale projects at customer sites,” said Jaatinen. “We expect to deploy the technology in industrial scale projects at customer sites, aimed to be operational in 2024, while full commercial deployment is expected to start around 2025.”
The RotoDynamic technology has two main applications: the RotoDynamic Reactor could be used to achieve 100% CO2-free olefin production (used in the petroleum industry), while the RotoDynamic Heater provides carbon-free heating for iron, steel, cement and chemicals production.
Coolbrook’s technology “has the potential to be the game changer in replacing fossil fuels with electricity for high-temperature industrial processes,” Helena Lähteenmäki, investment director at Nefco, said in a joint press release.
“There is a high level of interest from large industrial companies, which highlights the need to find solutions that can decarbonise heavy industries at scale,” Lähteenmäki said.
The impact of the new technology is significant, both from a financial as well as an environmental perspective.
“The global industrial heating market is worth about €1tn, of which Coolbrook’s pilot testing achievements open a significant share for RotoDynamic Technology,” Jaatinen said.
Once implemented at scale, Coolbrook’s RotoDynamic Heater and RotoDynamic Reactor technologies have the potential to slash 2.4 billion tonnes, or 30% of annual CO2 emissions in heavy industry, per year, Jaatinen said.