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Medley Thermal: Electrifying Process Heat

Our member company, Medley Thermal, is working to bring both energy and cost efficiency to the world of industrial process heating in steam-based systems. Medley Thermal tackles this challenge by lowering the costs of energy and carbon intensity of the thermal process. Currently, the EPA reports that “process heating applications alone account for approximately 36% of total delivered energy consumption within the manufacturing sector (a subset of the industrial sector). The vast size and scale of industrial heating energy use represents a unique opportunity for renewable resources.”¹ Medley Thermal saw an opportunity to meet this large market’s energy needs with electricity when low carbon resources are abundant and most productive.

An industrial process heating system

Founder and CEO, Jordan Kearns founded the company during his time as a graduate student of MIT. He was curious about how to make use of power that has been curtailed or undervalued in the market. Medley Thermal was launched with the goal of linking clean, low-cost power to steam based industrial process heating systems. The team called their solution “dynamic electrification.”

When electricity is cheap and coming from primarily low-carbon sources, Medley Thermal helps companies switch from fossil fuel steam generation to electric steam generation. They provide a software coupled with existing hardware that enables informed decision-making of using the right method at the right time.

Medley Thermal is prototyping an optimized “dynamic electrification” system for industrial steam users. This system will automatically switch between electric and fossil-fuel boilers to capture cost savings for steam users by responding to grid and market signals, the solution also promotes a cleaner and more responsive grid. While the switch is not always a straightforward process, it is made easy by Medley Thermal. As Kearns put it, “we can do this with off-the-shelf electrode boilers, but our innovative software enables these boilers to be used in a new way. These boilers are highly efficient at generating steam (99.5%) and have very fast response times (capable of multi-megawatt swings in seconds).” To enable this switch, their software uses three major types of data to cost-effectively dispatch the boilers. The software responds to energy market prices, applicable tariffs & regulations, and technical constraints.

As Medley Thermal seeks to provide clean and seamless solutions to industrial process heating by innovating new ideas, they’re starting with a focus on the steam market. However, they believe that “dynamic electrification” could be used for more than just steam-based process heating systems. Those applications will rely on the same software, but some hardware innovation is likely required to apply the concept to different use cases.

Greentown Labs is pleased to have Medley Thermal in our community and we’re excited to support their company’s growth and development! As the vast size and scale of industrial heating energy use represents a unique opportunity for renewable resources, we believe Medley Thermal’s creative solution can make a huge impact on the future of the industry. Keep an eye out for Medley Thermal’s updates on our Twitter.

 


¹https://www.epa.gov/rhc/renewable-industrial-process-heat

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