Team SOLID is a student team at Eindhoven University of Technology, working on a new concept called “metal fuels”, in which metals are used to sustainably store energy. When metal powders are burned, heat is released and the metals turn into metal oxides, also known as rust. The heat can be used to warm houses, drive trains and sail ships. The metal oxides formed during the combustion are captured. Later, these can be reduced back to metal powder, by using green energy. This way, a sustainable cycle is made in which energy is stored.
We are currently working on a proof-of-principle to show that this cycle can work, using iron. Compared to batteries, iron contains more energy per volume and the system is easier to scale up. Also, iron does not need to be compressed or does not explode like hydrogen. Metal fuels can be used to smooth out the fluctuations caused by sustainable energy sources, like solar and wind energy. Also, there is potential in using metal fuels in big transport such as trains or ships.