Industrial gases: air separation units?

Cryogenic air separation is used to produce 400MTpa of oxygen, plus pure nitrogen and argon; for steel, metals, ammonia, wind-solar inputs, semi-conductors, blue hydrogen and Allam cycle oxy-combustion. Hence this 16-page report is an overview of industrial gases. How does air separation work? What costs, energy use and CO2 intensity? Who benefits amidst the energy transition?

Power grids: down to the wire?

Power grid metals demand

Power grid circuit kilometers need to rise 3-5x in the energy transition. This trend directly tightens global aluminium markets by over c20%, and global copper markets by c15%. Slow recent progress may lead to bottlenecks, then a boom? This 12-page note quantifies the rising demand for circuit kilometers, grid infrastructure, underlying metals and who benefits?

Magnets and energy: fundamental attraction?

Overview of magnets

Electric currents create magnetic fields. Moving magnets induce electric currents. These principles underpin 95% of global power generation, 50% of wind turbines, motors that comprise 45% of electricity use, heat pumps, and electric vehicles. But what actually are magnets? How are they measured? Why do so many use Rare Earth metals? This 15-page overview of magnets explains key magnet concepts for the energy transition.

Post-combustion CCS: what energy penalties?

CCS energy penalties

A thermal power plant converts 35-45% of the chemical energy in coal, biomass or pellets into electrical energy. So what happens to the other 55-65%? Accessing this waste heat can mean the difference between 20% and 60% energy penalties for post-combustion CCS. This 10-page note explores how much heat can be recaptured.

Blue steel: construction boom?

DRI+EAF steel

The DRI+EAF pathway already underpins 6% of global steel output, with 50% lower CO2 than blast furnaces. But could IRA incentives encourage another boom here? Blue hydrogen can reduce CO2 intensity to 75% below blast furnaces, and unlock 20% IRRs at $550-600/ton steel? This 13-page report explores the opportunity, and who benefits.

Electrasteel: renewable steel breakthrough?

Electrasteel technology review

Electra is developing an electrochemical refining process, to convert iron ore into high purity iron, and ultimately into steel, using only renewable electricity. It has raised c$100M, gained high-profile backers, and is working towards a test plant. This 9-page note is an Electrasteel technology review, based on an exceptionally detailed patent, finding clear innovations, but also some remaining risks and cost question marks.

Global steel production has risen by 10x since 1950, to 2GTpa by 2022, and demand is still rising at 2.5% per year since 2012. 70% of steel is made in blast furnaces and basic oxygen furnaces, in a pathway that emits over 2 tons of CO2 per ton of finished steel (model here). Hence the steel industry comprises 8% of global CO2 emissions.

Blue steel can be made by increasing the portion of blue hydrogen blending in directly reduced iron and electric arc furnaces, in a process that is already technically mature, comprises 6% of global steel production, and can yield 50-75% decarbonization of steel with minimal additional costs, and with a possible IRA-triggered boom on the way (note here).

Green steel can also be made via a similar pathway to DRI+EAFs and blending in green hydrogen as the reducing agent. In the past, we worried that this pathway would be overly expensive, and cause some inflationary circular reference errors in new energies value chains (note here).

Electra’s iron ore reduction process is an alternative method for steel production using only renewable electricity. It uses a proton exchange membrane electrolyser to generate protons from water, uses the protons to acidically dissolve Fe3+ ions from iron ores, electrochemically reduces Fe3+ to Fe2+, then purifies the Fe2+ ions, filters them to a separate electrowinning cell, and plates out pure Fe metal. This is patent protected.

This 9-page report is our Electrasteel technology review, based on a particularly detailed patent that we have assessed on our usual framework (pages 1-2). It covers in detail how we think Electrasteel’s technology works (pages 3-5), where we think the patents point to a breakthrough (page 6), possible energy intensity (page 7), renewable steel costs (page 8) and remaining technical challenges that need to be de-risked (page 9).

Super-alloys: what role in energy transition?

Super-alloys role in energy transition

Super-alloys have exceptionally high strength and temperature resistance. They help to enable 6GTpa of decarbonization, across efficient gas turbines, jet engines (whether fueled by oil, hydrogen or e-fuels), vehicle parts, CCS, and geopolitical resiliency. Hence this 15-page report explores nickel-niobium super-alloys, energy transition upside, and leading companies.

What is the energy consumption of the internet?

Energy consumption of the internet

Powering the internet consumed 800 TWH of electricity in 2022, as 5bn users generated 4.7 Zettabytes of traffic. Our guess is that the internet’s energy demands double by 2030, including due to AI (e.g., ChatGPT), adding 1% upside to global energy demand and 2.5% to global electricity demand. This 14-page note aims to break down the numbers and their implications.

Blue ammonia: options strategy?

Blue ammonia

Blue ammonia can economically decarbonize the fertilizer industry, using low-cost natural gas; with options to decarbonize combustion fuels in the future. This report covers where we see the best opportunities, as reforms to the 45Q have already kick-started a 20MTpa boom of new US projects.

Energy macro: our top ten charts?

Energy macro top ten charts

Is the global energy system on the precipice of persistent shortages, and record prices, in the mid-late 2020s? We worry that cumulative under-investment in the global energy system has now surpassed $1trn since 2015, relative to our energy transition roadmap. Our top ten slides into global energy ‘macro’ are set out in this presentation.

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