May 17, 2020

America's Catalyst for Clean Energy

energy digital
U.S. Army
Renewable Energy
4 min
Clean energy's biggest advocate
Contrary to popular belief, the US military isn't just fighting to secure oil interests around the world. As the largest consumer of fuel and ener...


Contrary to popular belief, the US military isn't just fighting to secure oil interests around the world. As the largest consumer of fuel and energy on the planet, the US Armed Forces, if anyone, knows the importance of reducing the nation's dependence on fossil fuels. With thousands of men risking their lives in fuel convoys in Afghanistan and Iraq, improving energy efficiency goes beyond reducing the force's carbon footprint; it's about protecting the troops and improving operations. From that perspective, it's hard to understand the politicization of "green."

The military is arguably clean energy's biggest advocate, and, due to its size and influence, will play an integral role in the future of energy in the country as a whole. The DoD's investment in green technologies could essentially act as the catalyst the industry needed to reach full commercial potential.

Read more in May's issue of Energy Digital: The Military Edition

The Armed Forces have discovered significant tactical benefits in the use of more fuel-efficient vehicles, tools and generators, especially in remote locations around the world. At home, military bases are installing solar power, electric vehicle charging stations and making energy efficient retrofits across the country. Hybrid and fuel cell systems are being developed and tested for improved combat operations. By 2025, the DoD will source 25 percent of its power from renewable energy.

At a time when energy security is a high priority for the country, the US Army recently opened a one-of-a-kind laboratory to further pursue its efforts in efficient, clean energy technologies. The Ground Vehicle Power and Energy Laboratory (GSPEL) near Detroit, the nation's automotive capital, will work on improving fighting capabilities through the development of fuel cells and hybrid systems. The 30,000-square-foot facility, equipped with eight separate labs, will enable unprecedented ground vehicle testing and evaluation capabilities for the Army and its partners.

“The work done at the GSPEL will make our Soldiers’ loads lighter, reduce their energy requirements, and reduce the number of Soldiers we put into harm’s way to supply energy,” commented the Honorable Dr. Joseph Westphal, Under Secretary of the Army. “This facility will not only make us more efficient and save resources, but will save lives in combat as well.”

The building's Power and Energy Vehicle Environmental Lab (PEVEL), one of the world's most unique test chambers, can simulate temperatures ranging from minus 60 to 160 degrees F, humidity levels of up to 95 percent, wind speeds of up to 60 mph and a variety of terrain. Without ever leaving home, the Army can now perfectly simulate “a scorching desert day in Afghanistan or a bone-chilling day in Antarctica.”

With one incident resulting from every 46 resupply convoys in Afghanistan, the lab will allow researchers to make adjustments to its vehicles with life-saving implications.

“About 80 percent of the convoys that are traveling on the roads of Afghanistan right now are carrying fuel, and all of those Soldiers are now exposed as they move in those convoys on those dangerous roads, and they’re exposed to improvised explosive devices,” commented LTG Raymond V. Mason, Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics in a statement. “We’ve got to reduce those convoys and make our commanders more flexible and adaptable, and cut our energy costs. We need to find ways to save energy and, most importantly, put our Soldiers at less combat risk. This lab is where we will do that. We’re counting on this lab to drive energy innovation to demonstrate to the American people that the Army team — and the other services as well — are good stewards of our precious energy resources.”

Along with the opening of GSPEL, the Army announced its plans for a “Green Warrior Convoy” next year, which will serve as a road test for its newly developed energy efficient equipment. The convoy will stop at schools, colleges, communities and military facilities to demonstrate advances in fuel cells, hybrid systems, battery technologies and alternative fuels—the technologies that will not only help lead troops to victory abroad, but also win the fight for clean energy technologies for Americans at home.


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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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