By Tomas @Adobe Stock

Amrith Ramkumar and Scott Patterson of The Wall Street Journal are reporting that batteries that store heat can replace fossil fuels for steelmaking and other industrial processes. They write:

Industrial companies are searching for ways to make steel, cement and chemicals without burning fossil fuels. Some of the world’s biggest investors are betting a fast-developing battery that stores heat can solve the problem.

BlackRock, Saudi Aramco and Rio Tinto headline a group of financiers pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into startups making heat batteries. Also called thermal batteries, they use renewable energy to heat up blocks, rocks or molten salt. That heat is released on demand to power industrial processes.

Using electricity to generate heat is nothing new. That is how toasters work. The difference is that these toasters are roughly the size of shipping containers and release steam as hot as 2,750 degrees Fahrenheit, more than a quarter of the sun’s surface temperature. The trick is keeping the batteries hot until the heat is needed. […]

A competitor called Rondo Energy that uses clay bricks instead of carbon blocks recently raised $60 million from backers including Rio Tinto, Aramco and

Microsoft and installed its first commercial battery for a biofuel company in California last year. Also backed by Breakthrough, Rondo is working with Asian building-materials giant Siam Cement Group to open a megafactory.

“We’ve been building the company like crazy to respond to demand,” Rondo CEO John O’Donnell said.

Read more here.