Energy Dept. offers $50M to advance electric vehicles
At the Washington Auto Show on Jan. 22 U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced nearly $50 million to accelerate research and development of new vehicle technologies that give drivers and businesses more transportation options and protect the environment in communities nationwide.
This new funding includes support for the Energy Department’s EV Everywhere Grand Challenge, a broader initiative launched in March 2012 to make plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) more affordable and convenient to own and drive than today’s gasoline-powered vehicles within the next 10 years.
“Today, the American auto industry is on the rise, experiencing the best period of growth in more than a decade. The new research and development funding announced today will help support our domestic automakers’ continued growth and make sure that the next generation of advanced technology vehicles are built right here in America,” said Moniz.
With support from the Energy Department, U.S. automakers, universities and national laboratories have achieved significant advances in vehicle efficiency and electrification, including cutting the cost to manufacture advanced electric vehicle batteries by 50 percent over the last four years.
Building on these advancements, the funding opportunity announced this week will support a wide range of technologies that further cut fuel costs for drivers and help make vehicles more efficient and durable, including lightweight materials; cost-effective batteries and power electronics; advanced heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems; and improved fuels and lubricants.
Read more about electric vehicles:
By bringing together America’s best engineers, scientists and businesses, the Energy Department’s EV Everywhere Grand Challenge is focused on making electric vehicles more affordable and convenient to own than today’s gasoline-powered vehicles within a decade. A new progress report released today highlights continued growth across the U.S. plug-in electric vehicle industry:
- Last year, Americans bought nearly 100,000 plug-in electric vehicles, nearly twice as many as sold during 2012. According to industry estimates, the U.S. PEV market is on track to pass the 200,000 sales milestone by spring 2014 – nearly two years before hybrid electric vehicles reached this milestone since their introduction 10 years ago.
- The Kelley Blue Book 5-Year Cost to Own Awards ranked the 2013 Chevrolet Volt as #6 on its list of vehicles that have the lowest total cost of ownership for five years after the purchase of a new car. Only compact and subcompact cars cost less over this same period.
- Through the Workplace Charging Challenge, the Energy Department is working to expand access to workplace charging stations for Americans workers across the country. In the first year of the challenge, more than 50 employers – including Facebook, Coca-Cola and Dell – have pledged to provide PEV charging access to their workforce at more than 150 worksites.
- Over the last four years, the cost to manufacture advanced electric vehicle batteries has fallen by 50 percent. At the same time, the size and weight of PEV batteries has also been reduced by over 60 percent, while improving overall vehicle performance and durability.
Photo by Sarah Gerrity, Energy Department
Photo caption: Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz looks at the fuel cell and motor used to power Hyundai’s Tucson fuel cell vehicle.
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.