small iron balls

EINDHOVEN UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY: Dutch Students Develop New Technology to Store and Transport Hydrogen

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TU/e student team SOLID has developed an alternative technique that enables the safe storage and transport of hydrogen (specifically; the energy from hydrogen). In this process, small iron balls are used as energy carriers. The students have built an test setup, the so-called Steam Iron Reactor One (SIR One), which will be used for testing in the near future. The team’s ambition is to scale up the system in the coming years and realize a demo in the port of Rotterdam in 2027.

The system works as follows; the energy of hydrogen is stored via a reaction with iron oxide (also known as rust), producing iron and water. In the process, the iron serves as a storage medium that can be easily transported. Then, to provide hydrogen, iron must be brought into contact with steam, after which hydrogen and iron oxide remain. This creates a cycle in which iron acts as a kind of sustainable ‘hydrogen battery’, with the note that it is not hydrogen but iron that is stored and transported.

High energy density

According to the students, the small iron balls (also called iron pellets) are an ideal form of storage because of their high energy density. Hydrogen is now usually stored in tanks under a pressure of 700 bar, in order to increase its energy density. Iron has an energy density many times higher, and therefore can store up to three times more energy per volume than hydrogen under pressure.

Through this technique, student team SOLID, together with partners Metropool Regio EindhovenMetalotRIFTDNV and TU Eindhoven, is trying to tackle one of the major challenges in the energy transition, which is the transportation and storage of green energy. With electricity grids congested and limited storage options in conventional batteries, green hydrogen must play a major role in making polluting industries more sustainable.

800 million euros

The Dutch government is already investing heavily in hydrogen…

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