"The future is electric"

As the world moves toward a more sustainable future, more and more heating processes are making the switch to electric. This is the message from Daniel Burton, business manager, Kanthal® Services, in his presentation at CastExpo 2019.

What is the focus of your speech?

My speech is all about electrification and the advantages of switching from fossil-fuel-powered heating to electric heating. At CastExpo we are launching Daniel Burton, business manager, Kanthal® Servicestwo new service offerings, Kanthal® Process Labs and Kanthal® Pilot Plant, with all the necessary equipment and resources to test new heating process ideas, regardless of the scope. Our centers have the capacity to find the best solution from the smallest-scale process tests to full, industrial-scale process site testing. We are also launching the new Heliothal™ LT electric ladle heater, recommended for foundries not requiring the very highest temperature ranges, processing nonferrous metals which include aluminum, zinc, tin and lead. It is a robust, affordable and very effective addition to our Heliothal™ range which can preheat ladles from 149 to 2732°F (300 to 1500 deg C).

What are the benefits of electric heating systems?

The advantages of electric heating are considerable and include efficiency, safety, working environment and sustainability. Electric heating is up to six times more efficient than gas heating, resulting in considerably less energy consumption. This in turn reduces costs and minimizes emissions. Using electricity is also safer, as there is substantially less risk of fire of explosions. From a sustainability perspective, electric heating has the potential to be 100 percent carbon-neutral, if the energy used is generated from a renewable source. As for emissions, gas heaters generate both NOx and CO2, and also run the risk of emitting poisonous carbon monoxide, while the emission of these harmful substances from electric heating is zero. The same goes for noise pollution, which is a huge issue when using gas heaters but non-existent with electricity. The increased safety and reduced noise and emissions combine to create a huge safety advantage and a significantly more pleasant working environment.

Why should operators be thinking about going electric?

The change is coming, and, depending on where you are in the world, it could take more or less time, but eventually we will all have replaced fossil fuels with renewables. It’s better to be an early adopter and get on board now, instead of being left behind by the competition – especially since a technology switch like this typically takes some years to develop and implement. Meanwhile, the cost of renewable electrical energy is going down every year. If this continues, it will soon be the most cost-effective way to heat to high temperatures.

Looking at the regulatory landscape, legislation will soon limit the use of equipment that runs on fossil fuels. This is especially true in the EU, where new regulations are coming into play in the very near future. For example, the 2020 Climate and Energy Package seeks to cut emissions by 20 percent, ensure that 20 percent of EU energy comes from renewables, and secure a 20 percent improvement in energy efficiency – all by 2020. Further, the ISO 14001 standard requires companies to prove that they are working to improve their environmental performance before they will be certified.

What is driving the transition?

Operators want to control their systems better, improve temperature uniformity, be more sustainable and ensure a safe working environment. Electric furnaces currently outperform gas furnaces and fossil fuel fired furnaces in every one of these areas.

Radical change is coming. We can even see it starting in the most unexpected places, such as in oil and gas. These days, the vast majority of fossil fuel producers are trying to reduce their own fossil fuel consumption and diversifying their offerings to include renewable solutions.

What is your view on the future of heating?

It’s electric!

To learn more from Daniel Burton, visit CastExpo 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia, on April 27 and 28 at 2 pm, booth 2155.