Your whiskey may soon be made with a huge ‘brick toaster’ battery


Your whiskey may soon be made with a huge ‘brick toaster’ battery

Alcoholic drinks giant Diageo will replace natural gas-fired heat with Rondo Energy’s Heat Batteries at its production sites in Kentucky and Illinois.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded the Diageo–Rondo Energy project up to $75 million. That money comes from the Biden administration’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act. It’s part of the DOE’s $6 billion funding to decarbonize energy-intensive industries for 33 projects across 20 states.

Traditional beverage industry production processes – such as distilling, bottling, cleaning, pasteurization, and HVAC systems – require large thermal loads to run operations, and natural gas typically powers the boilers used for heating.

Enter industrial heat company Rondo Energy’s Heat Batteries, which use electric heating elements, like in a toaster or oven, to turn clean power into high-temperature heat.

Rondo Energy’s drop-in replacement Heat Batteries will replace natural gas at Diageo’s production facilities in Shelbyville, Kentucky (where Bulleitt Bourbon is made), and Plainfield, Illinois. That will eliminate nearly 17,000 metric tons of direct greenhouse gas emissions annually across the two facilities, equivalent to taking more than 4,046 gas-powered cars off the road yearly.

It will also serve as a replicable blueprint for how manufacturing facilities can integrate thermal batteries with intermittent renewable energy.

Photo: Rondo

The Rondo Heat Battery captures intermittent electricity from solar and wind, stores the energy from that electricity as high-temperature heat in brick materials, and delivers the stored energy on demand as high-temperature heat and/or electricity.

The battery, made only of brick and iron, charges in as little as four hours and stores heat energy at temperatures up to 1500C for hours or days.

Rondo, backed by Bill Gates-founded Breakthrough Energy Ventures and utility-backed Energy Impact Partners, says its Heat Batteries maintain continuous output power (95% annual capacity factor) while operating on input power as low as 15% capacity factor (four hours a day).

Read more: Texas installs another big solar + battery storage project

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