From Scrap to Power: Found Energy's Innovation in Low-Carbon Energy Production

By: Collaborative Team

Found Energy, a Boston-based startup – and Shared Future portfolio company – has recently made headlines for successfully producing >20 kW of continuous, hydrogen-based thermal power in an experimental reactor using low-grade aluminum scrap as fuel.

This breakthrough technology could revolutionize the energy industry and provide low-emission power to heavy industrial energy consumers, including aluminum smelters, long-haul trucking, ocean-going freighters, and ammonia producers for fertilizers. By using low-grade aluminum scrap as fuel, the company has produced a low-emission power source that could revolutionize the heavy industrial energy sector. As the company continues to develop its technology and expand its capabilities, it could have a profound impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting sustainable energy production.

The process is quite remarkable. The aluminum scrap is turned into fuel capable of rapidly reacting with water to produce hydrogen gas, which can either be burned for thermal energy or consumed in a fuel cell, as well as steam over a wide range of temperatures. Once the reaction is complete and the heat and hydrogen have been utilized, aluminum hydroxide is left behind. This chemical precursor to alumina is used by primary smelters to make pure aluminum metal, as well as other industries ranging from pharmaceuticals to plastic additives.

The company’s initial offering is a reactor capable of producing power in the kilowatt range. However, Found Energy plans to begin testing their first megawatt-scale model later this year. This is a significant step forward for the company and could lead to widespread adoption of this innovative technology across various industries.

Found Energy’s new technology could have a profound impact on heavy industrial energy consumers, especially those looking to decarbonize by integrating green hydrogen into their processes. For example, companies across the aluminum value chain that currently rely on fossil fuels could significantly reduce their carbon emissions by using this low-emission power source while at the same time improving post-consumer recycling rates. In the longer term, aluminum has the energy density, abundance, and safety profile to meet low-carbon fuel needs for ocean going freighters, hydrogen production, and other difficult-to-abate sectors. Today we move nearly a petawatt-hour of energy embodied in the global aluminum supply chain; in the future, Found Energy’s technology has the potential to supercharge this network, changing the way we transport energy around the world.

Found Energy was co-founded in 2022 by Peter Godart, a 3-time graduate of MIT and former JPL scientist, and Gadi Ruschin, a serial entrepreneur and supply chain expert.

Image credit: Midjourney