Scientists experiment with burning iron as a fuel source

Scientists experiment with burning iron as a fuel source

Sparklers produce a beautiful display of light and heat by burning metal dust, which contains iron. The recent work of Canadian and Dutch researchers suggests we can use iron as a cheap, carbon-free fuel.

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Story by Freethink

Try burning an iron metal ingot and you’ll have to wait a long time — but grind it into a powder and it will readily burst into flames. That’s how sparklers work: metal dust burning in a beautiful display of light and heat. But could we burn iron for more than fun? Could this simple material become a cheap, clean, carbon-free fuel?

In new experiments — conducted on rockets, in microgravity — Canadian and Dutch researchers are looking at ways of boosting the efficiency of burning iron, with a view to turning this abundant material — the fourth most common in the Earth’s crust, about about 5% of its mass — into an alternative energy source.

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