May 17, 2020

Areva Pushes for U.S. Recycling of Nuclear Waste

Nuclear
Energy
Power
electricity
Admin
3 min
French nuclear energy company Areva is pushing the U.S. to consider installing their nuclear waste recycling technology
Nuclear fission reactors have been providing various countries throughout the world with relatively safe and clean energy for the better part of the la...

Nuclear fission reactors have been providing various countries throughout the world with relatively safe and clean energy for the better part of the last half-century.  However, opponents to nuclear argue that it is not a “clean” energy due to the highly radioactive waste byproduct that nuclear reactors produce, and it is not “safe” due to the risks involved in meltdown situations like that in Japan recently.  Storage facilities have contained nuclear waste for decades, but are a security risk in themselves.  As nuclear waste increases, storage capacity decreases, and while electricity consumers may love the cheap nuclear energy powering their lives, no one is excited by the prospect of welcoming a new nuclear waste storage facility anywhere near their community.

French nuclear energy company Areva has found a solution, and is pressuring the United States to adopt its nuclear waste recycling technology. Jacques Besnainou, chief executive of Areva Inc. is working to persuade U.S. utilities companies to invest in recycling spent nuclear fuel, stating that the company will "advocate much more loudly for a recycling center in the U.S,” adding, “We are going to be much more vocal by the end of the year."

Just last month, the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future confirmed that the U.S. would need to develop one or more temporary nuclear waste storage facilities as current facilities are reaching their maximum storage capacity.  Besnainou states in regard to the findings, "I don't believe that any communities in the U.S. would ever accept long-term centralized storage." 

Besnainou believes that nuclear waste recycling facilities, on the other hand, would be welcomed by communities since they will create a new employment base. 

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However, the main deterrent to wide-scale acceptance of nuclear waste recycling—which for the most part seems like a smart idea—is of course price point, as well as added security risks.  While Areva’s nuclear waste recycling technology produces nuclear fuel that can be used to once again run reactors, it is far more expensive than traditional non-recycled fuel.  Plus, the recycling process utilizes plutonium, which creates a whole slew of security risks and measures that would need to be implemented in such a facility. 

Steven Kraft, a senior director at the Nuclear Energy Institute, remarks on Besnainou’s proposals, stating, "It's a great idea… I think recycling is something that we're going to have to do in this country."

In any case, it would take time to construct such a recycling facility, and funding would likely become a taxpayer or utility consumer’s burden, although current fees added to nuclear power utilities bills could be diverted to pay for such a facility.  Temporary storage facilities, nonetheless, will likely be installed somewhere in the U.S., but location is yet to be determined.  Will your community be the next to play host to a stockpile of radioactive nuclear waste? 

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Oct 19, 2020

Itronics successfully tests manganese recovery process

cleantech
manganese
USA
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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