Kraftblock is one of our group companies that has taken a giant leap from technological innovation toward commercial implementation in rapid time. When we joined Kraftblock as an investor in 2020, the company was fine-tuning the technical details of its solution. This October, just two years later, they secured their first landmark project, enabling one of PepsiCo’s chips factories in the Netherlands to cut up to 98% of the location’s total emissions upon realization.
We reached out to the team at Kraftblock to hear more about their journey toward making an impact at scale.
Thermal storage vs. electric batteries
But first, back to basics. When we talk about “energy storage” the first thing that comes to mind is usually electricity storage with batteries. While that is one possible key technology in the energy transition, for many industries and businesses it is an impossible alternative. Most industrial and manufacturing processes require heat as a primary form of energy, often at temperatures above 1,000°C.
“At Kraftblock, we want to focus our time on where we can make the biggest impact. Batteries are already developing rapidly, but solutions to accelerate the heat transition are lagging behind. Heat makes up 50% of worldwide energy consumption, heat processes are responsible for 28% of global CO2 emissions, and the demand for heat in the industry will grow by 60% until 2050.” says Martin Schichtel, CEO of Kraftblock.
Kraftblock’s solution offers companies a highly flexible storage and conversion system that connects energy flows in the form of electricity, heat, steam, and cooling from the source through the storage unit to the application. Handling and storing heat up to 1,300°C and offering scalable capacity to GWh scale, Kraftblock’s technology is the perfect green energy solution.
A system solution for PepsiCo
In Broek op Langedijk in The Netherlands, PepsiCo runs a factory that produces 1.6 million bags of their Lay's and Cheetos chips annually. Especially the frying process requires a lot of heat during the day.
PepsiCo, Dutch energy company Eneco, and Kraftblock recently announced that they will install a completely new energy system with Kraftblock’s technology at its heart. This will enable the factory to replace its current need of 4.5 million cubic meters of gas annually entirely with clean energy generated from renewable sources. During the first phase of the project, one 22-megawatt gas-fired boiler at the factory will be replaced, leading to a reduction of emissions by approximately 50%.
In the new installation, Kraftblock’s solution will form the core of PepsiCo’s heat management system. Clean electricity generated nearby will be used to store heat with Kraftblock’s unrivaled technology. Multiple units will make heat available for processing at exactly the right temperature, connecting heat generation, delivery, and recovery in one single system. Learn more about the process in the animation below.
Unlocking the potential of waste heat
Industrial processes typically create waste heat - energy that went into the process initially and is irrecoverably lost down the track. And during summer and in warmer locations, companies often need to invest in energy-intensive cooling solutions to remove excess heat from their processes.
Next to bridging the gap between energy generation from renewable sources and the demands for heat in industrial processes, Kraftblock’s solution is also designed to capture and store waste heat, reducing the need for energy input at the start of a process. With this, the team delivers a massive opportunity for emissions reduction, as recent studies estimate the waste heat potential of the European industrial sector alone at an immense 300 TWh/per year.
“Solving the waste heat problem creates a compelling case for businesses and our planet. Captured waste heat reduces the input energy needs of the entire plant, cutting costs and emissions. And industries can save on cooling infrastructure. Energy efficiency is the only resource we have in abundance, and we want to help industrial businesses all over the world to tap into it to realize enormous emissions reductions as well as economic benefits.” says Susanne König, CFO at Kraftblock.
An engaged member of the energy community
The energy transition is not only about technology, but about collaboration, innovation, and coordination. The Kraftblock team knows this well and is committed to playing an active role in the European energy transition. Kraftblock’s CFO Susanne König was recently elected president of the German Association for Energy Storage Systems, a big win for the team, the community, and women in tech.
“At Kraftblock, we focus on team spirit. We value diversity as an important key to success and are proud of our diverse team. Everyone is welcome here! Every idea counts and we want to write this success story together. We are allowed to make mistakes and learn every day.” says CEO Martin Schichtel.
Want more of Kraftblock?
Good news! The team is hiring and has many exciting roles up on their site. Take a look at their career opportunities or sign up for the Koolen Industries newsletter to stay up to date on news from the group.