Waste-free aluminum hydrogen technology process gets backing from Closed Loop

Waste-free aluminum hydrogen technology process gets backing from Closed Loop

January 8, 2024 0 By Erin Kilgore

Closed Loop Partners invests in Found Energy for new circular H2 tech.

New York City-based capital firm Closed Loop Partners, which has a mission to build a circular economy, has invested in a hydrogen technology solution from Boston-based Found Energy, which uses scrap aluminum to produce H2 and a raw material to manufacture aluminum.

A circular solution – using waste to generate energy.

One of the primary reasons Closed Loop chose to invest in Found Energy’s hydrogen technology is the company’s commitment to circularity through the repurposing of waste materials by turning them into carbon-free energy replacements for fossil fuels. Specifically, Found Energy converts scrap aluminum (from any source) into a carbon-free energy carrier by treating the aluminum with a catalyst and activating it with water.

This results in the creation of different outputs, including energy and alumina trihydrate. The energy produced is in the form of hydrogen and steam, while alumina trihydrate is an environmentally benign raw material used in various industrial processes including creating aluminum.

In an email to Resource Recycling, Daniel Joseph, managing director and head of the Closed Loop Ventures Group at Closed Loop Partners, explained that “Unlike other energy solutions we have seen, Found Energy considered end-of-life from the very beginning of their development process, by designing a process that uses scrap aluminum and wastewater streams to generate their energy, and a fully recoverable [alumina trihydrate].”

Hydrogen technology that can use aluminum waste from any source.

What makes Found Energy’s hydrogen technology solution particularly innovative is that the process they’ve designed can use aluminum scrap from any source. According to Joseph, this includes MRF bales and industrial waste streams. What’s more, Found Energy’s process can reportedly remove tramp elements, something that is not easily achieved with current smelting processes.

Hydrogen technology - H2 recycling bucket - aluminum can

While some aluminum waste is recycled around the globe, the reality is that there is an abundance of this waste material, which also happens to be highly energy-dense (roughly double the volumetric energy density of diesel, according to Found Energy).

Stable aluminum fuel can be generated directly from scrap using a catalyst that is both recyclable and fully recoverable. Moreover, hydrogen produced via this method is also cost effective, at less than $0.50 per kilogram. Additionally, it can be effectively stored at a volumetric energy density of 36 megajoules per liter, which is about five times greater than that of liquid H2, notes the company.

A circular economy requires a waste-free process.

hydrogen news ebook
Creating closed loop sustainable energy solutions isn’t only about generating renewable power, but also about how the materials used to produce this power are managed.

“The principles of the circular economy need to exist alongside the energy transition to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions – not only from energy production but also from the way we manage the materials used to produce that energy,” Joseph told Resource Recycling.

According to Joseph, Found Energy is currently in the process of scaling up its aluminum scrap-based hydrogen technology and is actively building its first 1 megawatt scale unit.

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