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Metal Powders Proposed as Clean Fuels

Category: Science & Technology
Posted: 07:32AM

For a number of reasons, from efficiency to cost and security, there is significant interest in replacing various fuels, but several of the proposed alternatives have significant disadvantages. Researchers at McGill University though have a novel suggestion though, which is to use metal powders as a fuel. Combustion with these powders results in solid oxides that are also stable, non-toxic, and are easily recyclable.

The combustion of metal powders has been used for centuries in fireworks and is also put to use in modern rocket fuels, but it has not been suggested as a recyclable fuel before. The McGill researchers found that it is possible to create a stable flame that burns metal particles suspended in the air, and that the energy and power densities are comparable to that of modern fossil-fuel internal combustion engines. A metal powder engine would be an external combustion engine though, like the coal-fired engines of the Industrial Era and what you can find at several power plants today.

Iron powders are strong candidates as a possible fuel as recycling methods for it are already well-established and millions of tons are already produced each year for multiple industries. The next step for this work is to create a prototype burner combined with a heat engine.

Source: McGill University

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