Iron powder could be the sustainable fuel of the future

Hyperaxion Feb 28, 2020

Residue from the combustion of iron powder can be reused to produce more fuel.

Efficient, recyclable and does not emit greenhouse gases. Iron powder is a promising source of clean energy, according to researchers at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands.

The fuel, which already attracts the interest of giants in the sector, generates energy through the heat produced during combustion, but unlike compounds derived from petroleum, it does not emit carbon dioxide (CO2).

It is reusable

However, according to the researchers, the great asset of this substance is in its reusability. After the combustion process, the iron powder becomes a kind of rust that can be converted into fuel again.

This process is carried out using hydrogen produced from sustainable sources of electrical energy.

In an interview with the Tech Xplore website, Niel Deen, a professor at the university and one of the research leaders, compares the compound to a recharged battery. “When you get iron powder from rust, you recharge the battery. And you can do it over and over again,” he says.

Additionally, scientists claim that iron is very abundant on the planet and the ability to reuse the compound eliminates any concern with the supply of iron powder in the future.

Early stage

The experiments, however, are still at an early stage. So far, the researchers have only one facility developed by a consortium called Metal Power and a financier from the province of Noord-Brabant.

However, the initiative also raises concerns among investors. Mark Varhagen, one of the project’s directors, told Tech Xplore that Chinese negotiators viewed the technology with some skepticism.

But, according to him, that changed when the structure of the project was presented. “Everyone sees the potential [of iron powder] on a large scale,” he says.

The researchers expect to present the iron powder to large companies later this year.

They intend to attract the interest of companies from at least three areas: the maritime sector, concerning the use of iron powder as fuel for vessels; the chemical sector industries that work with high temperatures; and thermoelectric stations that still use fossil compounds as an energy matrix.

For the time being, the use of fuel to power automobiles is not yet foreseen.


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