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Founders & Leadership

Addison Stark, Todd Bandhauer, Ashwin Salvi


Colorado State University, MIT, ARPA-E

Investment Area

Decarbonizing industrial heat with a drop-in electrified boiler

Ever since George Babcock and Stephen Wilcox patented their “safety” boiler in 1867, global industry has run on steam. But today, steam runs on fossil fuels. Between manufacturing (everything from beer to boxes) and heating (including district and campus installations), the production of steam creates more than 2 gigatons a year of greenhouse gas emissions. “If we want to decarbonize industry, we have to decarbonize heat,” says Addison Stark, co-founder and CEO of AtmosZero. “And to decarbonize heat, we need to decarbonize steam.”

Guided by a relentless focus on manufacturability, Colorado-headquartered AtmosZero has developed a heat-pump based industrial boiler that is a drop-in replacement for combustion boilers. Existing solutions for decarbonizing industrial steam break down into two unsatisfactory camps: electric resistive boilers that increase operating costs; or waste-heat driven heat-pumps that require extensive plant modifications, increasing capital costs. “Getting that waste heat requires tearing down your previous equipment, with all the associated engineering expense, project management fees, and facility downtime,” says Ashwin Salvi, co-founder and COO of AtmosZero. “Our solution strips away the balance of plant modifications that are necessary for waste heat utilization.”

Rather than treating each industrial installation as a bespoke project, AtmosZero is singularly focused on a mass-manufactured product that can effectively work as a drop-in solution in existing applications. In facilities with complex operations and narrow margins, AtmosZero’s system generates steam at a fraction of the installation costs of existing industrial heat-pumps, using a fraction of the electricity of today’s resistive boilers, and with primarily off-the-shelf HVAC components. “We’re not reliant on some piece of unobtainium in the middle,” says Stark. “Our moonshot is pragmatically scaling quickly.”

AtmosZero’s key technological advance is an innovative high-temperature compressor at the core of its boiler. Drawing on two decades of academic and industrial research into thermal energy systems, co-founder and CTO Todd Bandhauer, along with his team at AtmosZero, derived its innovative centrifugal design from automotive turbo technology. The system tweaks the performance of conventional HVAC components to achieve the significant temperature lift required to adapt heat pumps to industrial applications. Packaged into a standard spec product, AtmosZero’s boiler can easily replace existing systems, while taking advantage of the declining costs of high-volume manufacturing. “Customers can just order a product and drop it in—rather than needing a specialized engineering firm to do a full facility-wide integration,” says Stark.

Industries as diverse as food and beverage, cosmetics, and district heating all depend on the boiler room—and the fossil fuels that power it. By focusing on an electrified boiler that can be manufactured and deployed today, AtmosZero unlocks a broad global market, while reaping significant and immediate climate and supply-chain benefits. “Riding the coattails of the rapidly declining costs of carbon-free electricity, we can cost-effectively decarbonize industrial steam,” adds Bandhauer.