Bill Gates on the Future of Nuclear Power
TerraPower, a nuclear power start-up backed by Microsoft founder Bill Gates, announced intentions to sell its breakthrough traveling wave reactor technology to China and a number of other foreign powers like India, Korea and Russia last week. Deemed as the future of the industry, TerraPower has found a way to combine supercomputing technology with nuclear power technology to produce cheap, sustainable energy.
Why not the US?
For starters, “Current U.S. Rules don't even cover the type of technology TerraPower hopes to use,” Wall Street Journal reported in February.
Furthermore, the Chinese government has launched a major new initiative called the “Thousand Foreign Talents” in an attempt to attract the world's best entrepreneurs and engineers from around the world, especially from the US where there is no longer a budget for certain programs promoting technology start-ups.
Dominic Basulto, a digital thinker at Electric Artists in New York, describes the situation as a wake up call for the US. “The lesson is clear: The U.S. government needs to be just as aggressive as the Chinese in creating incentives for entrepreneurs and technology start-ups to grow and mature,” he says.
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With the environmental climate getting worse, Gates believes the poorest in the world will be hurt the most. Energy and climate are extremely important to these people—more so than anyone else on the planet. Changes in the environment will lead to uncertain farming, starvation and more poverty.
“If you could pick just one thing to lower the price of [in order] to reduce poverty, by far you would pick energy,” says Gates in a TEDs Talks conference.
Though the price of electricity has come down over time [in the rich world] with the many advances in energy over time, Gates emphasizes the need to move forward with constraints on CO2 emissions.
“We need solutions that have unbelievable scale and unbelievable reliability,” says Gates.
According to Gates, only five forms of energy will really make a difference in the future of energy: carbon capture and storage, wind, solar photovoltaic, solar thermal and nuclear. All will require significant work to overcome challenges to meet a 20 percent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2020 and 50 percent by 2050.
TerraPower will be a huge part of that movement.
Ted Talks: Bill Gates discusses the future of energy
Itronics successfully tests manganese recovery process
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.