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Catalyzing change: decarbonizing industrial processes for a sustainable future

In the face of escalating climate change and the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, decarbonizing industrial processes has become imperative. While climate goals have been set, achieving them requires more than just words and commitments. It calls for a collective effort involving innovative minds, governmental support, and a mindset that prioritizes action over endless discussions.  To tackle this global challenge, we must embrace curiosity, action, ownership, and simplicity as guiding principles.

First and foremost, curiosity is the catalyst for progress. We need curious minds that dare to explore unconventional ideas and challenge existing norms. Industries must actively seek out innovative solutions and embrace technological advancements that enable them to transition towards greener alternatives. Curiosity drives us to question the status quo and find novel approaches that can transform carbon-intensive processes into sustainable ones.

However, curiosity alone is not enough; it must be accompanied by ownership.Ownership plays a crucial role in driving decarbonization efforts. All stakeholders, from policymakers to industrial leaders and employees, must take ownership of the transition to a low-carbon future. Governments should implement supportive policies, regulations, and incentives that encourage industries to invest in sustainable practices. Industrial leaders must lead by example, demonstrating their commitment to decarbonization through tangible actions and transparent reporting. Employees should be empowered to contribute their ideas and efforts towards reducing carbon footprint. Collectively, this sense of ownership will create a shared responsibility for achieving climate goals.

Moreover, action plays a crucial role in driving decarbonization effort. It is essential that governments, industries, and individuals move beyond mere rhetoric and take concrete steps towards decarbonization. Promising technologies and green practices should be actively adopted and scaled up. Investments should be directed towards research and development of low-carbon technologies and infrastructures. Without action, the lofty climate goals will remain distant aspirations, and the consequences of inaction will continue to accumulate.

While the task at hand may seem daunting, embracing simplicity can provide clarity and enable effective action. Complex bureaucratic processes and convoluted regulations often hinder progress. Simplifying procedures, removing unnecessary barriers, and promoting clear guidelines can streamline the transition to low-carbon industrial processes. Simple and transparent frameworks make it easier for industries to navigate the challenges associated with decarbonization, encouraging broader participation and implementation.

Decarbonizing industrial processes is not a distant dream but a pressing necessity. It requires a departure from the mere talk of climate goals and a concerted effort to embrace curiosity, take action, assume ownership, and simplify processes. Governments, industries, and individuals must work together, leveraging innovation and technological advancements to drive sustainable change. The time for action is now, and we cannot afford to delay any further.

It seems clear that technology should be a driving force for the decarbonization of energy-intensive industries. Innovative technological solutions have the potential to accelerate the process of decarbonization, all the while leading by example in how to do so. From switching to renewable energy sources to improving energy efficiency. From electrification to advancing manufacturing techniques. The solution to these and related problems will be found in cutting-edge clean technologies.

At RIFT, we believe our technology is one of those solutions that will give us the answer to the question: how can we decarbonize these complex, dynamic industries?  Our Iron Fuel technology offers a new way to decarbonize energy-intensive industries, especially those industries that face limitations with hydrogen and electrification, or when these alternatives are simply not operable because they rely on a grid connection. In its simplest description, the technology consists of rusting and un-rusting iron to discharge the energy of iron fuel and recharge the iron fuel. Burning the iron powder in a boiler system releases energy that can be used in the form of steam, hot water, or hot air for district heating, industrial processes, and electricity plants. The only residual product of this process is rust, which is un-rusted in a production system by a chemical reaction with hydrogen. The driving force behind the development of this technology was, and still is, to offer a solution to end-users within the industry who experience an actual and pregnant problem. Fuelled by curiosity, ownership, taking action and keeping it simple, we’ve taken great strides towards our goal to reduce 1 gigaton of carbon dioxide a year, by 2050.

As we embark on this transformative journey, let us remember that decarbonization is not solely an environmental responsibility; it is an investment in a resilient and sustainable future. By decarbonizing industrial processes, we can reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, mitigate climate change, and unlock a new era of clean and prosperous industries. The challenges we face are great, but so are the opportunities. It is time to channel our collective energy, knowledge, and determination towards building a low-carbon world that future generations can thrive in.



Mark Verhagen, CEO & Co-founder RIFT | Renewable Iron Fuel Technology; Breakthrough Energy Fellow 2022