Form Energy is now leveraging its battery technology to make iron and steel production more sustainable

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Form Energy, founded in 2017, initially aimed to address the challenge of storing renewable energy affordably for extended periods. While developing their iron-air battery, they discovered a method to decarbonize the iron and steel industries. Their battery stores energy by converting rust into pure iron and releases energy by oxidizing the iron. This process can also produce iron using electricity instead of fossil fuels.

The Department of Energy’s ARPA-E recently awarded Form Energy $1 million to advance this clean iron technology. This funding will help transition the technology from the lab to a larger scale. Form Energy's CEO, Mateo Jaramillo, highlighted that their process offers a cheaper and scalable way to produce green iron, a crucial development since steel production accounts for about 9% of global carbon emissions.

Traditional iron production relies on high-temperature blast furnaces and fossil fuels, resulting in significant carbon emissions. Newer methods, like Direct Reduced Iron (DRI) using clean hydrogen, show promise but are expensive and require abundant clean hydrogen. Form’s technique uses low-temperature alkaline solutions and electricity to produce iron, which could be more cost-effective and easier to scale.

Form’s innovation represents one of several emerging green iron and steel technologies. If successful, this approach could significantly reduce emissions in the steel industry, pending the availability of low-cost, clean electricity.

Original article posted on May 21, 2024

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