Jun 27, 2023 - Energy & Environment

A startup helps a brewery get steamy

Animated illustration of a beer bottle with smoky emissions coming out of it, and a bottle cap falling onto it and stopping them.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

AtmosZero, a company emerging from stealth today and partnering with a prominent brewery, aims to electrify the production of steam used in industrial applications.

Why it matters: Climate-friendly steam production lacks the buzz of, say, electric vehicles. But it would cut carbon dioxide from multiple industries that use fossil fuel-powered boilers to supply heat.

State of play: The startup announced a pilot project with New Belgium Brewing, of Fat Tire fame, to deploy its electric boiler at the brewer's Fort Collins, Colorado, HQ next year.

  • AtmosZero has developed an efficient electric boiler envisioned as a mass-produced, drop-in replacement for units now running on gas or petroleum.
  • The company, also based in Colorado, sees applications in sectors like food, beverages and chemicals.
  • The industrial equipment firm Danfoss is providing compressors for the pilot and ongoing testing.

The big picture: "Boiling water to generate process steam accounts for a quarter of all industrial emissions, and in a brewery facility like New Belgium's it represents the majority of their on-site fossil fuel consumption," AtmosZero CEO Addison Stark said in a statement.

Zoom in: AtmosZero has raised $7.5 million in seed finance from venture investors, Stark said. Backers include Energy Impact Partners, Starlight Ventures and AENU.

Quick take: The climate advantages have a loose parallel in EVs.

  • Their CO2 edge over gasoline-powered vehicles expands as power grids become cleaner.
  • "No matter the level of your grid emissions, our solution offers efficiency improvement and an emissions reduction," Stark told Axios in an interview.
  • But he adds: "This is bringing a solution to market that takes advantage of the continually cleaning grid as well."

What's next: They hope to begin commercializing the product in late 2025.

The bottom line: Hitting global climate goals requires cleaner industrial processes.

  • "Steam has been so important for industry since the first industrial real revolution. You know, it's not a sexy problem, but it is super impactful," Stark told Axios.
  • "We think that decarbonizing steam is going to drive the next industrial revolution."
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