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Electrified chemical reactors

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Reactors - Credit: tasukaran/

Credit: tasukaran/

Inductive heating enables the generation of high-grade heat within a thermochemical reactor with unprecedented spatial and temporal control.

Electrifying the Chemical Industry

Stanford Professor Jonathan Fan is determined to change the way an entire industrial process works. His focus is the chemical manufacturing industry, which typically burns fossil fuels to reach the high-grade temperatures necessary to process chemicals. Prof. Fan’s technology electrifies the heating process, relying on an inductive heating platform that uses a metamaterial plate within a reactor to produce a customized volumetric heating profile. Assuming the electricity is produced with renewable energy, his process would make the industry significantly more sustainable.

For Prof. Fan, the HIT Fund organized and participated in discussions with senior strategic executives at leading companies, brought on an MBA student as an intern, and hired an industry expert who helped with customer discovery and completed a techno-economic and competitive analysis.

“We know that the decarbonization of high-grade heat is a huge opportunity, but what was also clear through the entire HIT Fund experience, is how much effort goes into finding the best application to bring to market,” Prof. Fan said. “The team really forced us to shift and push our thinking and even our research efforts. At the end of the day, this technology only matters if it translates into real-world solutions.”

About the Technology

The chemical industry is a significant producer of carbon emissions due to its predominant use of fossil fuels for combustion.  This project is intended to explore the commercial landscape of high temperature gas reformers and potential opportunities and entry points for new sustainable technologies to be adopted.


Team Members

Jonathan A. Fan profile photo
Prof. Jonathan A. Fan
PI, Electrical Engineering
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Photo of Calvin H. Lin
Calvin H. Lin
Graduate Student, Electrical Engineering
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