The oil age is ending. Electricity and battery power are great, but are we really going to be able to replace the entire oil industry before it’s too late? Researchers at the McGill University have come up with a possible clean fuel replacement — metal particles.
Tiny metal particles, as fine in grain size as icing sugar, have long been used for fireworks and even for rocket propellants, like the space shuttle’s solid-fuel booster rockets. But very little research has been used on applying this technology for use as a recyclable fuel — until now.
You see, the beauty with burning metal particles is that it is actually possible to reclaim the solid-oxides produced during combustion for recycling — unlike normal CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels. Using a custom-built burner, it is possible to harness this power — and allow for collection of the oxides.
…the McGill researchers demonstrated that a flame can be stabilized in a flow of tiny metal particles suspended in air. Flames from metal powders “appear quite similar” to those produced by burning hydrocarbon fuels, the researchers write. “The energy and power densities of the proposed metal-fueled heat engines are predicted to be close to current fossil-fueled internal combustion engines, making them an attractive technology for a future low-carbon society.
The next step is making a big enough prototype to power a heat engine. We’ve all seen the power of thermite for example… let’s figure out how to harness it!