May 17, 2020

AI is latest trend for energy efficiency

4 min
Artificial intelligence
[email protected] Make sure to check out the latest issue of Energy Digital magazine By Jenny Wadlow One of the technologies that will have the bigg...

Make sure to check out the latest issue of Energy Digital magazine 

By Jenny Wadlow

One of the technologies that will have the biggest impact on humanity over the next few hundred years will undoubtedly be artificial intelligence. Not only will AI bring about huge widespread changes, but it will change the world in ways that you probably would never expect. In fact AI might well even be the solution to our energy crisis.

Read on to find out how AI could save the planet and then some…

The nature of AI

Generally when people think of AI, they will tend to think of it as being human-like, with the aim of acting like a human being and possibly even developing free-will in Terminator style.

But of course that's not the purpose of most AI – rather most AI is context specific. It is intelligence designed to perform a particular task whether that's in a computer game, or whether it's driving a car or something similar.        

The first way that AI will help us to save energy then will be by controlling our machinery and equipment in a way that is more efficient and more precise than the way we do it.

Examples of efficiency through AI

Take for instance the example of 3D printing and digital manufacturing. Previously this was accomplished by machines that were controlled by people and as such errors would be inevitability and the cutting would often result in wasted energy and wasted materials. Now that every aspect is handled by a smart computer though, each line is absolutely precise and steady and there is the absolute minimum amount of waste material produced as a result.

Another example of technology being used in this way is self-driving cars. Google have demonstrated that self-driving cars are now a possibility and that they will be able to cross various types of terrain and even cause fewer accidents compared with vehicles driven by others.

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It's no push to think that such cars would also save energy by driving in straighter lines and taking more efficient routes to get to their destination. In the future we might all drive cars that control themselves, and those cars might well be able to communicate with one another in order to get information regarding traffic. No more traffic jams…

Of course Google's self-driving cars may seem a little way off right now, but then many of us will already own vehicles that can park themselves. Don't you think they're probably better at parking efficiently than you are?

Even at the most basic level, algorithms that run our lighting and heating can help us to save energy by coming on and off at precise times. If AI controls your lighting, there's no risk of you ever forgetting to turn it off yourself. This also gives us much more data to work with so that we can stick within a precise budget.

The future of AI

As we move further in the future though, AI is going to play a larger and larger role in controlling our devices and other aspects of our lives. And all the machinery that we already rely on will generally just get smarter meaning that it can complete tasks like washing clothes in a way that uses less energy (by weighing the clothes for instance and seeing which material they're made of).

More to the point though, it will also take over some of our jobs entirely. In the future robots will be able to handle all kinds of work, and will even be able to aid researchers in coming up with new theories.

Something that many science fiction writers and futurists will often talk about is a concept called the 'singularity'. This is the conceptual point in time at which technology gets so advanced that it ends up gaining momentum of its own accord. Once artificial intelligence exists, along with the computer power necessary to power huge equations and handle truly 'big' data, then we might start to see machines making breakthroughs of their own and teaching us new things.

It may be that once we get to this point, artificial intelligence could actually tell us how to solve our energy problems. It might well be a computer that comes up with a source of infinite power.

Author Bio: Jenny Wadlow, the author of this post, is a freelance blogger and writer. She is currently working with Shine On Solar, who are experts in solar panels, installations and power systems. You can follow here on Twitter on @JennyWadlow.

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Oct 19, 2020

Itronics successfully tests manganese recovery process

Scott Birch
3 min
Nevada firm aims to become the primary manganese producer in the United States
Nevada firm aims to become the primary manganese producer in the United States...

Itronics - a Nevada-based emerging cleantech materials growth company that manufacturers fertilisers and produces silver - has successfully tested two proprietary processes that recover manganese, with one process recovering manganese, potassium and zinc from paste produced by processing non-rechargeable alkaline batteries. The second recovers manganese via the company’s Rock Kleen Technology.

Manganese, one of the four most important industrial metals and widely used by the steel industry, has been designated by the US Federal Government as a "critical mineral." It is a major component of non-rechargeable alkaline batteries, one of the largest battery categories sold globally.

The use of manganese in EV batteries is increasing as EV battery technology is shifting to use of more nickel and manganese in battery formulations. But according to the US Department of Interior, there is no mine production of manganese in the United States. As such, Itronics is using its Rock Kleen Technology to test metal recoverability from mine tailings obtained from a former silver mine in western Nevada that has a high manganese content. 

In a statement, Itronics says that its Rock Kleen process recovers silver, manganese, zinc, copper, lead and nickel. The company says that it has calculated – based on laboratory test results – that if a Rock Kleen tailings process is put into commercial production, the former mine site would become the only primary manganese producer in the United States.

Itronics adds that it has also tested non-rechargeable alkaline battery paste recovered by a large domestic battery recycling company to determine if it could use one of its hydrometallurgical processes to solubilize the manganese, potassium, and zinc contained in the paste. This testing was successful, and Itronics was able to produce material useable in two of its fertilisers, it says.

"We believe that the chemistry of the two recovery processes would lend itself to electrochemical recovery of the manganese, zinc, and other metals. At this time electrochemical recovery has been tested for zinc and copper,” says Dr John Whitney, Itronics president. 

“Itronics has been reviewing procedures for electrochemical recovery of manganese and plans to move this technology forward when it is appropriate to do so and has acquired electro-winning equipment needed to do that.

"Because of the two described proprietary technologies, Itronics is positioned to become a domestic manganese producer on a large scale to satisfy domestic demand. The actual manganese products have not yet been defined, except for use in the Company's GOLD'n GRO Multi-Nutrient Fertilisers. However, the Company believes that it will be able to produce chemical manganese products as well as electrochemical products," he adds.

Itronics’ research and development plant is located in Reno, about 40 miles west of the Tesla giga-factory. Its planned cleantech materials campus, which will be located approximately 40 miles south of the Tesla factory, would be the location where the manganese products would be produced.

Panasonic is operating one of the world's largest EV battery factories at the Tesla location. However, Tesla and other companies have announced that EV battery technology is shifting to use of nickel-manganese batteries. Itronics is positioned and located to become a Nevada-0based supplier of manganese products for battery manufacturing as its manganese recovery technologies are advanced, the company states.

A long-term objective for Itronics is to become a leading producer of high purity metals, including the U.S. critical metals manganese and tin, using the Company's breakthrough hydrometallurgy, pyrometallurgy, and electrochemical technologies. ‘Additionally, Itronics is strategically positioned with its portfolio of "Zero Waste Energy Saving Technologies" to help solve the recently declared emergency need for domestic production of Critical Minerals from materials located at mine sites,’ the statement continues.

The Company's growth forecast centers upon its 10-year business plan designed to integrate its Zero Waste Energy Saving Technologies and to grow annual sales from $2 million in 2019, to $113 million in 2025.

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