May 17, 2020

Antimatter Trapped for 1,000 Seconds

2 min
Researchers at CERN have successfully trapped hydrogen antimatter for an unprecedented length of time: 1,000 seconds.
Antimatter is essentially just what its name implies, the opposite of matter. The same researchers running theCERN Large Hadron Collider—the bigg...

Antimatter is essentially just what its name implies, the opposite of matter.  The same researchers running the CERN Large Hadron Collider—the biggest particle accelerator in the world—have managed to isolate hydrogen antimatter for an unprecedented 1,000 seconds (16 minutes 40 seconds).  The implications are a giant step in human understanding of the elusive energy that exists in a realm opposite to our own everyday understanding of the physical world.

Hydrogen atoms contain one proton and one electron.  Hydrogen’s antimatter counterpart on the other hand contains one antiproton and one positron.  It is like hydrogen’s equal, yet opposite counterpart.  When antimatter comes into contact with regular matter, the result is a self-destructing reaction that releases a burst of excess energy, which could in the future offer energy generation applications for human use. 

Antimatter’s energy per unit of mass is roughly 10 orders of magnitude greater than chemical energy like dynamite.  It is about four orders of magnitude greater than nuclear fission, and two orders greater than nuclear fusion.  For example, roughly one kilogram of antimatter coming into contact with one kilogram of matter would release an energy equivalent of about 43 megatons.  The largest nuclear weapon ever detonated yielded 50 megatons of energy by comparison.



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Despite the success of the CERN experiment in isolating the hydrogen antimatter for such a long duration, researchers are still faced with one major setback in using antimatter for practical energy generation.  As of now, it requires far too much energy just to produce the antimatter to justify subsequent energy generation as of yet.  However, as antimatter research progresses, this barrier may well be broken, and everything from antimatter power plants to interstellar propulsion systems could be a reality.

CERN researchers created the antimatter in a process that merges cold plasma to create anti-atoms.  Scientists initially created antiprotons and cooled them using cold electron plasma and merged that with prepared positrons.  Superconducting magnets were then used to isolate the antimatter, presumably in a vacuum environment, to prevent coming into contact with matter, which could result in a devastating explosion.  As research continues, antimatter could provide a new type of energy generation to add to humankind’s ever-expanding power portfolio. 

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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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