Student team develops new process to help solve hydrogen storage and transport challengesJune 7, 2023
The team is using small iron balls as hydrogen energy carriers.
SOLID, the name of a multidisciplinary team of students at Eindhoven University of Technology (a public technical university in the Netherlands), is attempting to solve the problem of complex and costly hydrogen storage and transport with a steam-iron process that uses small iron pellets as H2 energy carriers.
Iron can work as a circular carrier of hydrogen.
The Dutch student team created a steam-iron process so that when iron is introduced to a flow of hot steam under high pressure, it reacts with the water molecules, generating hydrogen and iron oxide (rust).
Hydrogen can be extracted and utilized as an energy source, while the remaining iron oxide can be regenerated back into iron with the addition of hydrogen. In this way, the iron functions as a circular hydrogen carrier.
The iron offers a safer hydrogen storage and transportation solution.
The students say that the fact that iron is stored and transported in the place of hydrogen brings multiple advantages. For instance, since iron has a higher energy density it can store an estimated three times more energy per volume than pressurized hydrogen. Also, storing and transporting iron reduces logistical challenges as it can be stored and transported using safer and more compact methods.
Timme Ter Horst, Business Manager at SOLID, added that “Iron is also one of the most abundant elements on earth, which means that our technology can offer a cheaper alternative for the large-scale storage and distribution of hydrogen in the future.”
The Steam Iron Reactor One
The student team has built the Steam Iron Reactor One (SIR one) in collaboration with its partners. The SIR One is a test installation designed to explore and showcase the potential of the new iron pellet hydrogen storage and transportation technology.
In the next phase, the students will use the reactor to better the efficiency of the process and extend the lifespan of the pellets. The team also intends to scale up the current SIR One system to a SIR Two. The SIR Two is expected to have a fifteen times larger capacity than the first system at 500 kWh.
The goal is to eventually demonstrate the innovative hydrogen storage and transportation technology on an industrial scale for relevant end-users.
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