Foto © Takeda Manufacturing Austria AG

Mission Innovation Net-Zero Industries Award: AHEAD is National Winner in the category 'Outstanding Project'

by Oxana Schmidt

On December 19, 2023, the NEFI research project AHEAD (Advanced Heat Pump Demonstrator) was honored with the international Net-Zero Industries Award in the category "Outstanding Project" during a ceremony in Vienna. The aim of AHEAD is to develop and demonstrate an environmentally friendly alternative to natural gas for supplying heat to industrial processes using a steam-generating heat pump. The new form of process heat supply has the potential to save 1,900 tons of CO₂ per year at the largest Takeda pharmaceutical production site in Vienna. Additionally, this flagship project, under the leadership of AIT in collaboration with Takeda and heat pump manufacturer SPH Sustainable Process Heat, reinforces Austria's leading role in high-temperature heat pump research. It serves as a practical example for many other industrial enterprises aiming to decarbonize their processes. AHEAD is part of the NEFI-New Energy for Industry flagship region for industrial decarbonisation, funded by the Climate and Energy Fund.

Brigitte Bach, CEO Spokesperson, AIT Austrian Institute of Technology: "The AHEAD project is a shining example of how the partnership between applied research and business in Austria is paving the way for innovative solutions to jointly tackle the challenges of sustainable energy supply. Our research and innovations drive forward sustainable and efficient technologies that make a crucial contribution to the decarbonisation of industrial processes while strengthening the competitiveness of the industry."

Wolfgang Hribernik, Head of Center for Energy, AIT Austrian Institute of Technology, and NEFI Network Coordinator: "We are very pleased with the Mission Innovation Net-Zero Industries Award for our joint research with Takeda. The AHEAD project sets new standards for environmentally friendly heat supply to industrial processes. With the innovation network NEFI, we have the opportunity to scientifically accompany and test new key technologies like these with industrial users. This reduces the technical and economic risk for companies on the path to decarbonisation."

Veronika Wilk, AHEAD Project Manager, AIT Austrian Institute of Technology: "The AHEAD project is a significant milestone in the development of industrial heat pumps. The AHEAD system utilizes waste heat from refrigeration to produce steam and relies on heat pumps with natural refrigerants and steam compressors. This system is also easily transferable to other industries. AHEAD is intended to serve as a practical example for Austrian industrial companies looking to decarbonise their processes. The Mission Innovation Net-Zero Industries Award is a validation of our work and an incentive to continue our commitment to a more sustainable future."

Harald Erös, AHEAD Project Leader at Takeda: "The AHEAD research project takes a pioneering role and presents an environmentally friendly solution for providing steam for industrial processes. Previously, a significant portion of the process heat demand in pharmaceutical production was primarily covered by natural gas. However, with the AHEAD project, this is no longer necessary, as an innovative heat pump system is implemented. The Mission Innovation Net-Zero Industries Award emphasizes that we are on the right path with AHEAD, not only implementing a flagship project for Takeda but for the entire industry."

Mission Innovation Net-Zero Industries Award honors forward-thinking projects

On December 19, 2023, the "Mission Innovation Net-Zero Industries Award" was presented for the first time in Austria in three categories: "Outstanding Project," "Best Innovator" and "Young Talent." The award recognizes projects and individuals significantly contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in heavy industry. It aims to increase the visibility of current projects and solutions on the path to a carbon-neutral industry. Behind this is the Net-Zero Industries Mission, led by Austria and Australia, promoting the development of key technologies for the industrial energy transition and substantially accelerating global research, development, and demonstration.

NEFI Project AHEAD: Innovative High-Temperature Heat Pump System

As part of AHEAD, experts are developing an environmentally friendly alternative to natural gas for supplying heat to industrial processes using an innovative heat pump system. It consists of a steam-generating heat pump from SPH Sustainable Process Heat, adapted for the use of natural refrigerants and combined with steam compressors to generate steam at 11 bar(a)/184 °C. Furthermore, a concept for the dissemination of the AHEAD system for Takeda sites in Vienna and worldwide is being developed, and the decarbonisation potential of this technology for key sectors (paper, chemical and petrochemical, food) in Austria is being examined. AIT experts are also developing an optimized operational strategy for the AHEAD system and heat source with a comprehensive system model to operate the system with minimal energy requirements. The research project is funded by the Austrian Climate and Energy Fund and carried out as part of the "NEFI - New Energy for Industry" network,

For more information about the AHEAD project, please visit: AHEAD | NEFI.

Net-Zero Industries Mission

Mission Innovation (MI) is a global initiative of 23 countries and the European Commission with the goal of accelerating innovations in energy technologies. Within MI, seven missions address an unresolved challenge in the field of renewable energy. The Net-Zero Industries Mission is led by Austria and Australia. By 2030, the first solutions are expected to be commercially available and competitive. The focus of the mission is on projects in emissions-intensive sectors: Net-Zero Industries Mission.

Link to the OTS-Press release.