Pometon S.p.A., headquartered in Maerne, Venice, Italy, reports that it is participating in IRON+, a joint venture established by Pometon, EMGroup and Metalot, that intends to build what it states is the first fully operational commercial MegaWatt size energy plant operating on iron powder-based fuel technology. IRON+ recently signed a letter of intent with Swinkels Family Brewers that will see the technology used to supply sustainable heat for the company’s brewing process over the next twenty years.
This iron powder-based fuel technology has been under development through the Metal Power Consortium, with participants including TU Eindhoven, Metalot, Studentteam SOLID, EMGroup, HeatPower and Romico Hold. A successful first demonstration of the iron powder-based fuel technology reportedly took place at one of the breweries of Swinkels Family Brewers, and resulted in the CO2-free production of beer for the first time.
“During a two-year improvement and testing phase since that time, the technology has matured and the system efficiency has been enhanced,” stated Guy Willems from EMGroup. “The combustion is not only CO2 free, but it promises also to have very low NOx and particle emissions, which is also of key importance. As far as we know this would be the first commercial iron power system in the world.”
For the iron powder-based fuel technology process, iron powder is burnt to an iron oxide powder in a boiler to produce steam. After combustion, the iron oxide powder is converted back to iron powder using hydrogen, ultimately derived from solar and wind energy. Iron powder can store energy in a very compact, cheap, safe, environmentally friendly and CO2-free way. This combination is what is said to make it an important solution for the heat-intensive industry.
“Production of iron powder and the industrial reduction is in our genes for decades,” added Rudi Clayton, CEO of Pometon, “This off-the-shelf technology is currently improved within the IRON+ company for green energy applications.”
Over the next twelve to eighteen months, the final testing phase of the boiler system for the iron powder-based fuel technology will be completed, the conversion technology will be finalised in the Metalot Future Energy Lab, the contracts between companies will be formalised and a final short demonstration will be organised at one of the Swinkels Family Brewers sites, before the building phase of the commercial plant begins.
“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 for us that the complete process is fully circular, so more research was needed,” stated Peer Swinkels, CEO of Swinkels Family Brewers “Now we know that regeneration is possible in a green way, we can go forward. As the new company, IRON+ has been established now, we are extremely proud and happy to be the first in the world to be able to adapt this technology for our future brewing process. This is one of the corner stones of the master plan we are carrying through currently to be fully circular in the years to come. We need more than one solution for our energy transition, in the end we need several solutions and this could be an important one.”