Boston-based startup Found Energy has successfully produced 20 kW of continuous, hydrogen-based thermal power in an experimental reactor using 1kg (2.2lbs) of aluminum scrap as a fuel source.
The scrap is treated with a proprietary catalyst that causes it to liberate hydrogen particles contained in a water bath, which can either be burned for thermal energy or stored in a fuel cell.
Once the reaction is over and the heat and hydrogen dissipate, aluminum hydroxide is left behind. Aluminum hydroxide is a chemical precursor to alumina that is used by primary smelters to make pure aluminum metal.
GH Power, based in Canada, has also been working on its own aluminum scrap and hydrogen reactor. The company has promised to build at least six reactors by the end of 2025, all between 1-60 MW, according to a slide deck from last year.
While producing hydrogen gas using aluminum scrap has been tried by others for decades at the research level, advances in sustaining the reaction and recycling catalysts for reuse have been the limiting factors for commercial applications, an industry consultant told Argus.