As an increasing number of industries are looking to break ties with fossil fuels and transition towards greener fuels to power their industrial processes, a strange candidate has recently gotten under the spotlight: iron.
At least that’s what a brewery in the Netherlands recently tried out, by installing the world’s first-of-its-kind combustion system that uses metal powder as a clean, sustainable fuel to power its beer-making processes.
Though it may seem like a peculiar type of clean fuel, iron powder burns readily at high temperatures, releasing energy as it oxidizes in a process that emits zero carbon and instead produces rust as its only emission.
In its turn, that rust can easily be captured, to be regenerated back into iron powder by using solar or wind energy, eventually creating a totally carbon-free cycle.
Swinkels Family Brewers in the Netherlands has recently become the first business in the world to put this process to work at an industrial scale. Together with researchers at TU Eindhoven and the Metal Power Consortium, the company successfully installed an iron fuel system at its Brewery Bavaria that’s capable of providing all the heat needed for brewing 15 million glasses of beer a year.
“We are enormously proud to be the first company to test this new fuel on an industrial scale in order to help accelerate the energy transition,” said Peer Swinkels, CEO of Royal Swinkels Family Brewers.
Moving on, the researchers are already working on a follow-up project to scale the system’s energy potential even further, with the ambition to become the first ones to convert a coal-fired power plant into a green iron fuel plant by 2030.