May 17, 2020

'Energy Bag' Offshore Wind Energy Storage

3 min
Thin Red Line Aerospace develops the ‘Energy Bag,’ a high-pressure balloon that holds compressed air as power storage for offshore wind farms
One of the biggest problems facing renewable energy like wind power is its inability to store energy. Giant battery units are needed to hold the power...


One of the biggest problems facing renewable energy like wind power is its inability to store energy.  Giant battery units are needed to hold the power created, otherwise the energy must be fed directly into the grid.  This can create irregularities in energy generation during low wind periods, and developers continue to seek out low cost alternatives to store the energy created.  One novel approach is the use of compressed air.  The wind turbines can power air compressors to fill tanks, then the high-pressure air can be released to run generators for electricity.

Thin Red Line Aerospace is taking this compressed air approach to energy storage and applying it to offshore wind farms.  With the creation of the ‘Energy Bag,’ the company has engineered an undersea compressed air energy storage unit to optimize offshore wind’s potential.

Thin Red Line Aerospace describes the technology:

The process is conceptually straight forward: Wind turbines fill the balloon-like underwater bags with compressed air that later drives electrical generators on demand. While initial application is ideally linked to floating wind turbines, excess electricity from the grid—or from clean energy sources such as tidal and wave power—can also be used to drive compressors to fill the energy bags. The technology is especially suited to countries with relatively deep waters near their coasts.

Unlike on-ground compressed air storage units, which must be made of high-strength materials like carbon fiber to bear the high-pressure required to sufficiently generate energy on demand, the Energy Bag uses the naturally occurring pressure in deep sea conditions to contain the compressed air in a modified balloon design.



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The Energy Bag itself weighs only 165 pounds (75 kilograms), but is able to displace 40 tons of sea water when placed at 2,000 feet (600 meters) below the water’s surface.  At this depth, pressures are around 70 times greater than the atmospheric pressure above water.  Just one Energy Bag can store approximately 70 MW hours of energy, or the equivalent of 14 hours of energy generation from the largest offshore wind turbine models. 

The Energy Bag is expected to cost far below what an equivalent battery storage system would.  However, not all deep sea locations are suitable for the technology, since the locale needs to be close enough to land to feed the air via tubing to a land-based generator.  Europe - with numerous suitable offshore locations - has been identified as the first likely market to implement the Energy Bags, and Thin Red Line Aerospace has its eyes particularly set on the up-and-coming floating wind turbine farms that are being developed to tap deep sea wind power.

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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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