Swedish researchers have proposed using excess wind and solar energy to burn metals such as aluminum and iron to produce heat that could be used to generate electricity or hydrogen.
“The released heat can be used for turbines, which in turn generate electricity“, the researchers said, noting that at the end of this process the metal oxide remains as a powder. “Alternatively, hydrogen gas can be produced, in which case the combustion takes place with hot steam.”
They said that by using solar or wind power, the oxidized powder could become ordinary metal again. That claim the process is safe, cheap and fossil-free.
“By electrolysis, the metal oxide can be converted back into a metal,” said the researchers. “It can be done by pouring metal oxide powder into a cryolite solution into which two current-carrying electrodes are inserted to initiate a chemical reaction.
The research group is planning to build a facility based on the circulation process at brewery In southern Sweden, where electricity production needs to be expanded. Their work is based on many years of research burning metals such as iron and aluminum.
“The pilot plant will be like a a small coal-fired power plant, but where coal is replaced by iron,” said researcher Marcus Aldén.
The team hopes to repeat the plan in other places in Sweden Skåne region.
“Together with some German, Canadian and Dutch research groups, we concluded that these common metals are so promising both as an energy source and as an energy carrier that they could serve as part of the energy supply,” the researchers said. , without giving further details on the technical data.
The researchers likely refer to the Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung in Germany and TU Eindhoven in the Netherlands, which published the paper Acta Materialia in October to introduce a similar technology.