Found Energy has developed a ground-breaking technology that utilizes water to oxidize aluminium, converting stored energy into hydrogen and heat. This innovative process is capable of functioning with low-grade and contaminated aluminium waste.
According to Gadi Ruschin, Co-Founder, they can easily transport aluminium and oxidize it at high power density in an aqueous environment that requires hydrogen. This is a safer, more straightforward, and more efficient method than transporting hydrogen, as aluminium has a ten-fold higher energy density than liquid hydrogen.
The company further explains that each tonne of aluminium has approximately 8.6MWh of stored energy, one of the most volumetrically energy-dense materials, with a rating of 23MWh/m³.
Rushin elaborated: "A single aluminium soda can contains enough energy to charge an iPhone 14 over ten times. The source of this energy is primarily from electricity consumed during the aluminium smelting process (we can think of aluminium smelters as enormous battery chargers), which can be up to a 70% efficient process."
"The energy density is double that of diesel and ten times higher than liquid hydrogen; this means that we can transport very high amounts of energy in much smaller tanks/vessels than the industry is used to," added the Co-Founder and CEO.
Reportedly, Found Energy has created a catalyst that can disintegrate the oxide layer that develops on aluminium due to its reaction with oxygen. The resulting activated aluminium is then mixed with water in their reactors, leading to energy generation. Furthermore, hydrogen and heat are produced as a by-product while the aluminium is fully oxidized and aluminium hydroxide is generated. The company also attests that any additional alloying elements can be filtered out and reused.
Ruschin explained: 'The transition to renewable energy is a complicated task that requires energy production and storage. These two points are at the heart of the discussion and are being focused on by many start-ups, as well as established companies. There is also a third point, which is much less discussed – energy transportation."
'Unlike fossil fuels, renewable energy is usually produced in stationary plants or fields and transported through the grid – but if the energy is needed somewhere else, there is no good solution yet, and this is where we come into the picture," he added.
Found Energy claims this technology will lead the transportation of clean energy from one hemisphere to the other hassle-free. They have demonstrated it at 50kW and are trying to achieve 1-10MW for their first commercial product. Megawatt-scale reactors will be developed and tested later this year. The technology can potentially reduce energy costs for industrial partners.
Rushin also mentioned that the kW-scale reactor is a prototype that refines energy generation and demonstrates it to industrial partners. Scaling up involves engineering and meeting customer needs. He views "Scientific efforts support achieving high power outputs."
Found Energy is an R&D firm in Boston, USA, with a vivid employee and proprietary database. The research activities are spearheaded by NASA, Stanford and MIT-based scientists.