Author Topic: Iron Fuel: dodgy tech or legit?  (Read 5972 times)

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Online SiliconWizardTopic starter

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Iron Fuel: dodgy tech or legit?
« on: October 03, 2023, 12:43:43 am »
 

Offline Circlotron

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Re: Iron Fuel: dodgy tech or legit?
« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2023, 02:19:46 am »
Interesting to see how much energy is required for reduction, and consequently the overall efficiency. Capturing the liberated oxygen and reusing in the combustion process would be useful.
 

Offline ConKbot

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Re: Iron Fuel: dodgy tech or legit?
« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2023, 05:49:59 am »
Well given they are using hydrogen forming gas to reduce the iron, this is just hydrogen energy in a funny hat.  But if they can go from electrolysis cell to reducing oven without high pressure compression, or liqueficaton, that improves efficiency, so the hit of other inefficiencies isn't as bad.

Overall, just plausible enough to get funding from people who believe the "trust me bro" and don't run the numbers, but that's what could make or break this as energy storage.
 

Offline Kleinstein

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Re: Iron Fuel: dodgy tech or legit?
« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2023, 08:50:26 am »
AFAIK the production of iron is a bit tricky and not very efficient energy wise, especially when starting from electricity / hydrogen.  So using iron powder as a energy storge medium is likely not such a great idea. Iron is also quite heavy, so if at all metal power it would be more like aluminum powder.

The first problem to solve is an effective way to produce iron - improvements there could be a great deal, but it's an old problem and likely no easy solution.
 

Online jpanhalt

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Re: Iron Fuel: dodgy tech or legit?
« Reply #4 on: October 03, 2023, 09:40:50 am »
Why stop at aluminum?  Go to lithium ... oops, we already have lithium batteries.;)

Iron-based batteries go way back.  The original Edison battery was iron-nickel (https://edisontechcenter.org/batteries.html).  Aside from details, is this really that different from getting energy from or storing energy in batteries?
 

Offline nctnico

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Re: Iron Fuel: dodgy tech or legit?
« Reply #5 on: October 03, 2023, 09:52:48 am »
https://ironfuel.nl/
They have been around for a while. It looks like their main target is to keep power plants running that are now using coal (which is turned into a powder before burned) which could potentially extend the usefull life of existing power plants (and recoup investments). Other than that I don't really see an advantage compared to using hydrogen + fuell cell. When burning something, you are very likely to get NOx emissions which are much more of an immediate health problem compared to CO2 emissions. Hydrogen + fuel cell doesn't get you NOx emissions. I also see a resource problem; steel (which main component is iron) is very much in demand so it doesn't make sense to put more strain on the supply.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2023, 10:20:17 am by nctnico »
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Offline T3sl4co1l

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Re: Iron Fuel: dodgy tech or legit?
« Reply #6 on: October 03, 2023, 05:34:12 pm »
Shrug, not clear at a glance how they propose to burn it, or recover it, but go figure it's a marketing wank-site, nothing technical. Got any white papers?  Patents?

Funny that Shell is listed as a partner.  Which...

Overall, just plausible enough to get funding from people who believe the "trust me bro" and don't run the numbers, but that's what could make or break this as energy storage.

...Or something just plausible enough to pad their [partners'] carbon offset / environmental propagandaportfolio.


AFAIK the production of iron is a bit tricky and not very efficient energy wise, especially when starting from electricity / hydrogen.  So using iron powder as a energy storge medium is likely not such a great idea. Iron is also quite heavy, so if at all metal power it would be more like aluminum powder.

The first problem to solve is an effective way to produce iron - improvements there could be a great deal, but it's an old problem and likely no easy solution.

Maybe, but aluminum is rather painful to reduce, no less environmentally friendly (carbon and fluoride are involved), and only feasible in specific locations (cheap consistent energy X economy of scale).  Keep in mind also the combustion temperature: adapting existing infrastructure (if that's even a claim, I'm not clear on that at a glance) to burn aluminum at whatever ungodly 3000K or whatever it burns at, is likely a steep challenge, not to mention the fouling of boiler pipes due to accumulated Al2O3 "ash" (but at the temperatures high-temp coal runs at, it'll readily fuse in place).  Iron is maybe easier in that respect, but the lower fusion temperature (~1800K) and propensity to act as a flux (FeO is basic with respect to silicate chemistry) still limit combustion temperatures and handling systems.

The product is also solid, with a lot of heat capacity; you'd want that to somehow fall into a column of cool air as counter-flow heat exchanger to extract everything from it.

The first thing that comes to my mind, at least, is to just pack filings loosely and spark it from one end.  Blow air through (from the opposite end) and hot air comes out.  Meanwhile it sinters itself in place, emitting little ash/particulates.  Once the whole block has been expended, continue to blow air to cool it down and extract that last bit of heat capacity.  The resulting block can be reduced by heating with hydrogen, or preferably by direct electrochemical reaction without added steps and heating, but that will take chemical process.

It doesn't strike me as a very efficient energy transfer mechanism; and as with all things hydrogen, that's all it can be.

Chemistry could be, what... At least an acid as catalyst; direct reduction to metal, could be crystals or sponge depending on conditions, easy enough to pulverize and reuse.  An inert anode, say in sulfuric acid, can yield oxygen, and then the oxide is just soaked up by acid freed by deposition, so not much acid would really be needed, and it's not like sulfuric is expensive or anything.  Some impurities remain behind (maybe carbides and nitrides, insoluble oxides and other ash, noble metals?; sludge), and some dissolve into the electrolyte eventually needing to be processed (NH4+, Na, K, Ca, Mg, Zn, Al, etc.).  (Well, Ca to a point, a percent or so, before it precipitates with the sludge.)

On the upside, perhaps such a process could be integrated with industrial byproducts like pickling baths in steelmaking (free iron ions in solution, hurray).  Or if you needed chlorine, use HCl; maybe the process could be chosen depending on price of byproducts at the time (chlorine gas, hypochlorite, etc.).

Tim
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Online PlainName

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Re: Iron Fuel: dodgy tech or legit?
« Reply #7 on: October 03, 2023, 06:04:22 pm »
Quote
I don't really see an advantage compared to using hydrogen + fuell cell

Wouldn't this be a lot easier to store and transport? I'd count that as quite an advantage (though burning it would be more of a drag). Swings and roundabouts.
 

Offline nctnico

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Re: Iron Fuel: dodgy tech or legit?
« Reply #8 on: October 03, 2023, 06:57:33 pm »
Quote
I don't really see an advantage compared to using hydrogen + fuell cell

Wouldn't this be a lot easier to store and transport? I'd count that as quite an advantage (though burning it would be more of a drag). Swings and roundabouts.
Why do you think it is easier to transport? Hydrogen is already piped to everywhere. The natural gas pipelines in most places are just as suitable for hydrogen. And don't forget the gas made from coal before natural gas / propane / butane became popular had a large hydrogen content (like 50%). Hydrogen isn't something new, it is coming back.

Shrug, not clear at a glance how they propose to burn it, or recover it, but go figure it's a marketing wank-site, nothing technical. Got any white papers?  Patents?
My guess is that burning iron powder is compatible with a coal burner system:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal_burner
« Last Edit: October 03, 2023, 07:13:01 pm by nctnico »
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Online jpanhalt

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Re: Iron Fuel: dodgy tech or legit?
« Reply #9 on: October 03, 2023, 07:19:27 pm »
@nctnico
Aren't most gas lines today steel?  Can hydrogen at any appreciable pressure cause the welds to get brittle?
 

Offline nctnico

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Re: Iron Fuel: dodgy tech or legit?
« Reply #10 on: October 03, 2023, 07:57:25 pm »
@nctnico
Aren't most gas lines today steel?  Can hydrogen at any appreciable pressure cause the welds to get brittle?
All I know is that over here they have been making the natural gas piping systems hydrogen ready for a long time. The (state owned) company who controls the gas lines states that the existing infrastructure for natural gas (local & country wide distribution) can be used for hydrogen as well. IOW: it doesn't sound like it is a problem to me and if it is, measures to prevent problems have already been taken.
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Offline T3sl4co1l

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Re: Iron Fuel: dodgy tech or legit?
« Reply #11 on: October 03, 2023, 08:01:27 pm »
A lot of gas lines are also PE (or others, but I think that's mainly it?), which... maybe isn't bad for it?  There will be diffusion, but maybe the loss rate is acceptable.  Looks like it's mechanically sound at least.

Noteworthy, there are also regions where -- I don't know if it's used at all today, but at least has been in the past -- "city gas" or "coal gas" (CO + H2 mix) is either the bulk content, or blended with natural gas.  Also the source of the "stick your head in an unlit oven" meme (which obviously doesn't work so well in other locales... until the natural gas builds up explosively that is).

Tim
« Last Edit: October 03, 2023, 08:04:01 pm by T3sl4co1l »
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Online TimFox

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Re: Iron Fuel: dodgy tech or legit?
« Reply #12 on: October 03, 2023, 08:13:25 pm »
In Chicago, the local gas company inserts plastic pipes inside the original steel piping between the main and the house:  saves digging, and the original pipe protects the plastic from environmental problems even if there be rust holes.
There is a large literature on hydrogen embrittlement of iron and steel:  it can be a real problem at elevated temperatures, such as steam locomotive boilers, or with higher-strength steel alloys (due to grain structure).
An interior coating on pipes that keeps the hydrogen away from the steel need not be strong or thick, so long as it adheres to the metal.
https://www.imetllc.com/hydrogen-embrittlement-steel/
 

Offline analityk

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Re: Iron Fuel: dodgy tech or legit?
« Reply #13 on: November 17, 2023, 06:03:12 pm »
It clearly wasting of energy in much way. If electricity is source of energy there is much better way to store and restore it with relatively high yield. By burning anything we can reach only 36-38% of stored energy because thermodynamics. By electrolysis yeld isn't restricted and here thermodynamics prove the efficiency can be higher than 100% (for fuel cells it is actually true but ofc nobody reach it in practical way). So storing energy in aluminium or magnesium which can be produced directly by electrolysis is more efficient than making hydrogen and use it to reduce iron oxide. Much steps also reduce efficiency (it isn't Helmholtz rule?)(for sure entropy change is bigger).
Energy form magnesium or aluminium can be released by used it in hybrid fuel cells with reasonable high efficiency. Also storing metalic aluminium or magnesium are not difficult or inefficient.
So there is clear for me this big idea with iron is managed only for UE or other donations. Someone want to get your tax as self payment because you can not prove it is wrong way. There is many clear stupid ideas while when you show it from other side you will get money for research. Nothing more.
 

Online PlainName

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Re: Iron Fuel: dodgy tech or legit?
« Reply #14 on: November 17, 2023, 06:15:26 pm »
Quote
By electrolysis yeld isn't restricted and here thermodynamics prove the efficiency can be higher than 100% (for fuel cells it is actually true but ofc nobody reach it in practical way).

Really? How do you work that out?
 

Offline T3sl4co1l

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Re: Iron Fuel: dodgy tech or legit?
« Reply #15 on: November 17, 2023, 06:35:51 pm »
They're probably referring to endothermic electrolysis.  The production rate is exponentially lower, hence it isn't of practical consideration.

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Offline Marco

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Re: Iron Fuel: dodgy tech or legit?
« Reply #16 on: November 17, 2023, 06:57:54 pm »
The problem with iron/zink/aluminium is that the regeneration is inefficient and the need to recover the oxide is a giant PITA.

That said, for the need for heat in industrial processes it might compete with hydrogen at net zero.
 

Offline Marco

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Re: Iron Fuel: dodgy tech or legit?
« Reply #17 on: November 17, 2023, 07:04:27 pm »
They have been around for a while. It looks like their main target is to keep power plants running that are now using coal (which is turned into a powder before burned) which could potentially extend the usefull life of existing power plants (and recoup investments). Other than that I don't really see an advantage compared to using hydrogen + fuell cell.
Iron is also easier to stockpile. Once salt caverns run out, hydrogen becomes hard to store at seasonal/strategic levels. Storage in old gasfields is still being actively researched (biogenic conversion and lack of recoverability could be a problem).
 

Offline analityk

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Re: Iron Fuel: dodgy tech or legit?
« Reply #18 on: November 19, 2023, 03:45:02 pm »
Real PITA is people who never known hydrogen properties and ther technology. Hydrogen itself is PITA, it is soluble in many know alloys, then production is expensive and dangerous, it store low amount of energy in function of volume or weight, and in electrolysis is costly to produce due to overvoltage that is need to release it on electrode. And it is not so reactive like people may think.

One of the most efficient method to store electric energy is li-ion accumulators. Also it efficiency is under 90% (because inverters efficiency, electrodes polarisation, internal heat due to internal series resistance etc).

I recommend to you to get some electrochemical table's and count on it and compare. I think gpt can help something.
 

Online coppercone2

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Re: Iron Fuel: dodgy tech or legit?
« Reply #19 on: November 21, 2023, 08:02:54 am »
I thought a ridiculous amount of energy goes in globally towards steel production, and alot of it makes major pollution (china).

increase demand for iron and then china and india will pollute us to hell

china is like Bethlehem steel, they don't do it efficiently in alot of places. they shut down here because it was a BS process overall

al production forces you to use electricity, because of the process, but its possible to make dirty steel. And if you just want iron, like pig iron, then oh boy your gonna have people just burning whatever the hell they find, gonna look like victorian england. the steel production process keeps quality of the process up. right now it makes sense to product pig iron right where you make steel, so you can benefit from the steel industry, I think it keep it civilized with higher quality and reliability reactors etc.

if you goal is just iron then you will get some serious BS being built IMO. the great leap forward included chinese citizens producing pig iron in their yards.... they stopped because it was deemed useless and inefficient towards steel production because you can transfer molten metal into the steel maker to save energy without remelting it direct from ore, once you get a use for pig iron in cooled form... but in this case you might make pig iron a marketable sell able product by the pound. They could not use the pig iron while still hot (saving energy) to make good steel in small scale production. It caused terrible pollution according to historical anecdotes. I think making cold pig iron valuable again is a mistake and will lead to every third world country making massive amounts of pollution for profit, so long they can get the ore.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Direct_reduced_iron
lack of demand and shipping is making it unappealing to make in small scale though, I think..

Pig iron was historically poured directly out of the bottom of the blast furnace through a trough into a ladle car for transfer to the steel mill in mostly liquid form; in this state, the pig iron was referred to as hot metal. The hot metal was then poured into a steelmaking vessel to produce steel, typically an electric arc furnace, induction furnace or basic oxygen furnace, where the excess carbon is burned off and the alloy composition controlled. Earlier processes for this included the finery forge, the puddling furnace, the Bessemer process, and the open hearth furnace.

Modern steel mills and direct-reduction iron plants transfer the molten iron to a ladle for immediate use in the steel making furnaces or cast it into pigs on a pig-casting machine for reuse or resale. Modern pig casting machines produce stick pigs, which break into smaller 4–10 kg piglets at discharge.

right now it reduces alot of cost to still use it hot though, so cold its less valuable. for batteries it would be fine.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2023, 08:17:16 am by coppercone2 »
 

Offline Marco

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Re: Iron Fuel: dodgy tech or legit?
« Reply #20 on: November 21, 2023, 02:20:53 pm »
One of the most efficient method to store electric energy is li-ion accumulators. Also it efficiency is under 90% (because inverters efficiency, electrodes polarisation, internal heat due to internal series resistance etc).
If you know why hydrogen is considered in the first place, this is a disingenious argument.

If you don't, seasonal/strategic storage for a majority renewable energy supply. If you want to argue lithium ion vs hydrogen, you should not at the same time change the parameters of the problem. Nuclear is not an option for the sake of that discussion.
 

Offline nctnico

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Re: Iron Fuel: dodgy tech or legit?
« Reply #21 on: November 21, 2023, 03:58:20 pm »
One of the most efficient method to store electric energy is li-ion accumulators. Also it efficiency is under 90% (because inverters efficiency, electrodes polarisation, internal heat due to internal series resistance etc).
If you know why hydrogen is considered in the first place, this is a disingenious argument.

If you don't, seasonal/strategic storage for a majority renewable energy supply.
Indeed. People keep being blinded by efficiency being the primary driver of choices. But it isn't. Economics are the primary driver. Beyond -ballpark- half a day, hydrogen is cheaper to store electricity compared to batteries.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2023, 04:26:40 pm by nctnico »
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Offline analityk

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Re: Iron Fuel: dodgy tech or legit?
« Reply #22 on: November 27, 2023, 11:47:32 pm »
Let's consider quote from picture below. 74%. As long as production of hydrogen is relatively easy it is not efficient. Always you have to consider more parameters than only efficient but in big scale of production energy consumption is often most critical costs. Storage of hydrogen is problematic but anyone do not touch this process. In heavy industries hydrogen is energy carrier only.

Always iwhen you thinking about storage hydrogen, production of it and use it for future power generation you have to do research about NiMH power cells. This cells literally store hydrogen for future power generation.
 

Online ejeffrey

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Re: Iron Fuel: dodgy tech or legit?
« Reply #23 on: November 28, 2023, 03:54:33 am »
Indeed. People keep being blinded by efficiency being the primary driver of choices. But it isn't. Economics are the primary driver. Beyond -ballpark- half a day, hydrogen is cheaper to store electricity compared to batteries.

Half a day is nonsense.  If that were the case there would be grid scale hydrogen storage being produced commercially on a wide scale today.  There are battery systems installed and making money with 2-4 cycles per day from the single user up to huge grid scale installations. These are not pilot projects but really commercial installations.  That doesn't exist for hydrogen because batteries are much cheaper at the daily cycling scale. There probably is a timescale where the costs cross, but it's longer than half a day.  Certainly seasonal energy storage with current batteries doesn't seem economically viable.  Hydrogen might be, but its hard to say because right now the demand for seasonal storage is so low that almost nothing is economically viable.
 

Offline jbb

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Re: Iron Fuel: dodgy tech or legit?
« Reply #24 on: November 28, 2023, 04:57:41 am »
Seasonal storage is a complete b*stard of a problem; you need LOTs of energy ie huge equipment, it has to sit around doing nothing for months (and may leak out eg water evaporation in pumped hydro) and you don’t use it often - which is when you get paid.

As it happens, a plus of a coal plant is that you can have a huge pile of coal out the back & know exactly where December’s electricity is coming from. And of course the minuses are air pollution and CO2 emissions.

So maybe, maybe a large stock of special iron filings could achieve that. But it’ll have to beat Li batteries, pumped hydro (very dependent on geography) and whatever else is on the table.
« Last Edit: November 28, 2023, 04:59:19 am by jbb »
 


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