Rust to Iron Powder for Sustainable Industrial Heat

by , | Mar 19, 2024 | Sustainability

Jim Cahill

Jim Cahill

Chief Blogger, Social Marketing Leader

Mark Verhagen, the CEO of RIFT and Emerson’s Rene van der Gaag presented Emerson Collaborates with RIFT (Renewable Iron Fuel Technology) to Create a New Process for Storing and Releasing Energy at the 2024 Emerson Exchange Conference in Düsseldorf, Germany. Here is his session’s abstract:

Two years ago, Emerson was approached by a startup company with a great idea which needed support with engineering, and selection of instrumentation and valves. They wanted to burn iron powder and control the amount of energy released during the process. They also wanted to collect the residual rust and convert it back to iron powder by adding energy via hydrogen injection. Two individual processes needed to be controlled and managed in a safe, feasible and commercially attractive way manner, without releasing carbon and nitrogen to the environment. Finally, the process needed to be circular.

Mark opened by noting that 20% of all GHG emissions directly result from industrial heat. 20% of all GHG emissions are a direct result of industrial heat. In 2050, with the expectation that 60% of all industrial plants (30,000 plants) still won’t be connected to a grid or only limited, this remains 12%.

RIFT’s mission is to decarbonize industrial heat to reduce the global carbon footprint by one gigaton of CO2 per year by 2050. Their solution is to deploy Iron Fuel Technology™, a clean technology that uses iron powder as a CO2-free, safe, and grid-independent energy carrier.

Combined with ambient air and a spark, the iron powder creates a 2000 deg C flame with no carbon dioxide creative. The flame can create boiler steam for industrial heating. The process is circular, where the iron powder is oxidized (rust) and then de-oxidized (converted from rust to iron powder). Iron powder is a very compact energy source compared with other energy carriers, such as hydrogen. It is also very safe in the iron powder state.

Iron fuel and recovery process for storing and releasing energy

Deploying Iron Fuel Technology™, a clean technology that uses iron powder as a CO2-free, safe and grid-independent energy carrier.

This video explains their innovative process.

The first step, successfully concluded last year, was the 1MW industrial prototype. The RIFT team is currently building and commissioning the pilot systems. They secured their technology with ten patent families. Mark and the RIFT team secured letters of intent worth 2 billion euros from customers to fund the production scaleup.

Some of the key reasons for the collaborative efforts between RIFT and the Emerson team included:

  • A clear focus on Sustainability and Decarbonization
  • A commitment and drive to invest in the energy transition
  • Optimization of the Emerson technology portfolio to enhance product value as enablers for new applications

Rene shared some of the Emerson technologies used in this process.

Mark shared the three challenges all start-ups face: a lack of knowledge, time, and money. They relied heavily on the Emerson team for their experience in valves to pick ones that could meet their incredibly tight budget & short timeline of 6 months from the conversation start to the commissioned process.

He shared these key takeaways from this collaboration:

  1. Align risks strategically and proactively and collaborate through defined steps.
  2. Step by step, increase commitment to achieve your shared goals.
  3. Concentrate on making the pie bigger together.

Learn more about iron fuel technology on the RIFT website.

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The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the authors. Content published here is not read or approved by Emerson before it is posted and does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Emerson.

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