Storing solar power by incinerating metals – pv magazine International

2023-03-08 17:35:51 By : Mr. Zeping Lin

Scientists in Sweden have proposed the use of excess wind and solar power to incinerate metals such as aluminum and iron, in order to produce heat that could be used to generate electricity or hydrogen.

Image: Kennet Ruona, Lund University

Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have developed a way to store electricity produced by wind and solar installations, by incinerating scrap metals. The storage technique uses wind and solar electricity to power systems that combust metal power, usually iron or aluminum, and make it react with heated air or steam.

“The heat released can be used to drive turbines which in turn produce electricity ,” the scientists said, noting that at the end of this process, the metal oxide remains as a powder. “Alternatively, one can choose to produce hydrogen gas, in which case the combustion takes place with hot steam.”

They said that by using solar or wind power, the oxidized powder can become ordinary metal again. The claimed that the process is safe, cheap and fossil-free.

“Using electrolysis, the metal oxide can be converted back into metal,” said the researchers. “ It can be done by pouring the metal oxide powder into a solution with cryolite into which two current-carrying electrodes are inserted to start a chemical reaction.”

The research group plans to build a facility based on the circular process at a brewery in southern Sweden, where electricity production needs to be expanded. Their work builds on multi-year research efforts on the burning of metals such as iron and aluminum.

“The pilot plant will be like a small coal-fired power plant, but where the coal is replaced by iron,” said researcher Marcus Aldén.

The team hopes to replicate the plan at other locations in Sweden's Skåne region.

“Together with some research groups in Germany, Canada and Holland, we came to the conclusion that these common metals are so promising as both an energy source and an energy carrier that they could function as an element of the energy supply,” the academics said, without providing additional technical details. 

The researchers are likely referring to the Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung in Germany and TU Eindhoven in the Netherlands, which published a paper in Acta Materialia in October to present a similar technology.

This content is protected by copyright and may not be reused. If you want to cooperate with us and would like to reuse some of our content, please contact:

More articles from Emiliano Bellini

A better route for storing RE would be something like the Calcium Oxide to Calcium Hydroxide reaction. This reaction can achieve temperatures in the 500 to 600 C range which is high enough to provide process heat to a wide variety of industries. It’s also hot enough for an efficient steam cycle. The Calcium Hydroxide can be turned back into Calcium Oxide with the application of heat at 580 C.

Ideally you want the reversible reaction to use heat rather than electricity. This makes it so you can pair cheap thermal storage with your chemical reactor and maintain high capacity factors with your expensive equipment. It’s not as easy to do this if you use metals because you need electricity for the electrolysis step – i.e. it’s harder to maintain high capacity factors with your expensive equipment.

Please be mindful of our community standards.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

By submitting this form you agree to pv magazine using your data for the purposes of publishing your comment.

Your personal data will only be disclosed or otherwise transmitted to third parties for the purposes of spam filtering or if this is necessary for technical maintenance of the website. Any other transfer to third parties will not take place unless this is justified on the basis of applicable data protection regulations or if pv magazine is legally obliged to do so.

You may revoke this consent at any time with effect for the future, in which case your personal data will be deleted immediately. Otherwise, your data will be deleted if pv magazine has processed your request or the purpose of data storage is fulfilled.

Further information on data privacy can be found in our Data Protection Policy.

Legal Notice Terms and Conditions Privacy Policy © pv magazine 2023

This website uses cookies to anonymously count visitor numbers. View our privacy policy. ×

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.