Energy Saving Thermostats for the iPod Generation
Thermostats control 10 percent of all US Energy. Like most of us, Tony Fadell, known as the “godfather” of the iPod, didn't think they mattered either until he realized they account for half of homeowners' energy bills. Inspired, Fadell decided to redesign the outdated, ugly thermostats and create something that makes more sense for consumers.
The revelation came to him when he and his wife retired from Apple a few years back and started building a green home in Tahoe, CA. When his architect showed up with some expensive options for thermostats, he wasn't expecting to see something that looked like a “beige box from the 90s,” he told TechCrunch in an interview. After doing some research, he discovered hundreds of others that all looked and performed about the same. That's when he decided to design a device geared more towards consumers rather than the contractors, who could care less about efficiency or aesthetic appeal.
“It was unacceptable to me that the device that controls 10 percent of all energy consumed in the U.S. hadn’t kept up with advancements in technology and design,” said Tony Fadell. “We hope it will not only save money and energy, but that it will teach and inspire people to think more about how they can reduce home- energy consumption.”
Called the Nest, the easy to use device has motion-tracking sensors that detect the presence of people to adjust temperatures accordingly and is smart enough to learn and mimic schedules. It's the only thermostat that essentially programs itself, learning from its users' habits.
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Within the first week of use, the Nest begins tracking a schedule of how temperature is set periodically throughout each day and adjusts accordingly thereafter. Using activity sensors, it can also detect the absence of people within a couple hours and know to reduce energy consumption, but can also be controlled remotely from any smartphone, laptop or tablet. A leaf will pop up on the LCD display whenever energy—and money—is being saved.
Released last month for $249, the Nest easily pays for itself within a year with minimal effort. For every degree a home is kept cooler in colder months or warmer in hotter months, about five percent of energy is saved. Shifting habits by just a few degrees over the course of a year can reduce energy bills by more than enough to cover the initial cost of the device. Plus, it looks cool.
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.