Metal Fuels – One of the Most Promising Fuels for the Future?
Did you know that in microgravity we are preparing one of the most promising fuels for the future?
Microgravity is helping to find answers and models to refine the processes needed to efficiently burn solid fuel like iron dust. Are we witnessing the raise of a new “Iron Age”? Could we use metal powders instead of petrol to fuel our cars?
Solid fuels are used for burning a match, lighting a sparkler on New Year’s Eve as well as the fuel inside the boosters of Ariane and of other rockets. But metals such as iron can also burn, in powder form, and are entirely smokeless and carbon free.
Metals could be produced using clean energy, such as from solar cells or wind turbines. That electricity is stored as chemical energy in the metal powder at energy densities that are competitive with fossil fuels. This has the potential to reduce greenhouse gasses emission globally, but a barrier to implementing this technology is the development of combustion systems that can efficiently burn the metal fuels, which requires a solid understanding of their combustion physics.