The Netherlands – The new consortium Iron+ and brewery Swinkels are building a commercial power plant on iron powder. According to the initiators, the plant will have a “megawatt size” and will provide Swinkels with sustainable process heat for the next twenty years.
Iron+ is a joint venture between the three companies EMGroup, Pometon and Metalot. Metalot is a spinoff of Eindhoven University of Technology that has been researching metal powder as a fuel for years. Prof. Philip de Goey of Metalot: ‘Iron+ is now ready to build and sell its first commercial plant.’
Fuel based on metal powder is a relatively new technology for storing and transporting huge amounts of renewable energy. Iron powder is burned in a boiler to produce iron oxide (rust powder) to produce steam. After combustion, the iron oxide powder is regenerated back into iron powder using hydrogen, which is produced from solar and wind power in places with a huge surplus of renewable energy. Iron powder, according to the initiators, can store energy in a very compact, cheap, safe, environmentally friendly and CO2-free way. This combination, according to the initiators, makes it an important solution in the energy transition of the heat-intensive industry.
The new project follows successful initial demonstration two years ago. Back then, a trial was conducted for several weeks at Swinkels’ Bavaria brewery in Lieshout. In doing so, Swinkels brewed the first CO2-free beer.
In the coming 12-18 months, the current test phase of the boiler will be completed and the regeneration technology will be finalized in the Metalot Future Energy Lab. Peer Swinkels, CEO of Swinkels Family Brewers said, “We already had a lot of confidence in the potential of the Iron Power technology and the Iron Power consortium, but it is very important to us that the complete process is fully circular, so more research was needed. Now that we know regeneration is possible in a green way, we can go further.’
Watch also the film on iron powder fuel made last year for the Dragons’ Den of Transition during European Industry and energy Summit 2021.