Electric Car Charging Goes Wireless
Just like CDs, VHS players and cell phones without internet, are the days of pumping our cars with dirty fossil fuel bound to become obsolete? You have to admit, it's a bit inconvenient and prices of oil aren't exactly cheap. The rate at which the iPod generation is experiencing technology advance is so unprecedented that electric vehicles are embarking on a modern renaissance as battery technologies rapidly improve along with transportation infrastructure and charging systems. Plugging E.V.s in at night may even become a thing of the past. Soon, EV owners will be able to drive to work everyday without ever having to stop at a gas station or think twice about recharging when pulling back into the garage at night.
Wireless charging for EV's is becoming a hot space as the conveniency factor weighs in. Some products on the market include WiTricity from MIT and HaloIPT from the University of Aukland, New Zealand (now under Qualcomm). A company called Evatran is also deploying its own Plugless Power technology, with a heavier focus on commercialization of the technology. Compared to the universities, Evatran believes its system has a few advantages coming from the industry side of development.
“We have what we believe to be the most lightweight components that go on board the vehicle, which is very important for integration for automotive manufacturers,” says Evatran's energetic 20-something Chief Operating Officer, Rebecca Hough. “We have full intention of bringing this product to market, so we believe we should have first market advantage.”
Of course, as with anything, the price of conveniency does come at a slightly higher premium. However, Hough says the difference is comparable to about the price of a cup of coffee once a month, or just a few bucks.
“You're still paying just about four cents per mile for electricity versus about 12 cents for a gasoline-powered car, so the monthly costs of charging your EV remains very low by comparison,” says Hough.
Charge time is not affected with Plugless Power, but there is a small drop in efficiency compared to plug-in systems. Traditional systems before installation typically range in price from $700-$2,500 (uninstalled), Plugless Power coming somewhere in that higher price range. As the company scales up, however, those prices will drop.
Evatran plans to start production of the system by the end of 2012 after going over the feedback it gets from a few trial phases underway with the likes of Google, Hertz rent-a-car and Duke Energy. Because the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt are the market's hottest E.V.s in terms of production quantity, they'll be the first adopters.
The waiting lists are open and EV advocates are excited for the new technology that is sure to also help the case for going electric.
“Just like the customers that jump onto every new Apple product, a lot of early adopters of E.V.s just want to be the first with the technology,” says Hough. “We believe this is another product that will bring back a lot of excitement to electrical vehicle ownership.”
Of course, plug-in charge systems will still have a place in the public space, whereas wireless systems are more intended for residential use initially. For those owners, gas stations and having to remember to recharge at night will become so oldschool.
“You're simply using your vehicle without have to do anything at all,” says Hough.
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.