Bottom-up assessment of industrial heat pump applications in U.S. Food manufacturing
Decarbonization of the industrial process heat supply through electrification could contribute significantly to climate change mitigation efforts. In the U.S. industry, thermal processes accounted for more than two-thirds of the total final energy demand in 2021. Cross-cutting electrification technologies like industrial heat pumps are suitable for the process heat supply to several industrial unit operations in a sustainable way while also improving overall energy efficiency. This study employs a bottom-up approach to investigate the techno-enviro-economic potentials of deploying high-temperature and steam-generating heat pumps in the major U.S. food manufacturing sectors in different timeframes. The results show that the annual technical potential energy and CO2 savings by electrifying process heat supply are 325 PJ (or approximately 20% of the total final energy demand in U.S. food manufacturing) and 31 MtCO2 (equivalent to the annual CO2 emissions from over 6 million cars in the U.S.) in 2050, respectively; however, these incur additional costs in each sector. Although there may be individual cost-effective opportunities for electrifying heat supply in specific industrial sites, the overall costs are estimated to be high in the food sectors due to the large disparity between electricity and natural gas prices and low heat source temperatures. To overcome the identified techno-economic barriers, comprehensive action plans for different stakeholders are needed. This study provides novel insights that should inform policymakers’ and executives’ decisions about the electrification of the current and future U.S. industrial heat supply in relevant industrial sectors.