Energy Usage Measured on the Circuit Level
Ever wonder exactly how much energy a microwave oven or big screen TV uses, whether you left your refrigerator door open, or how much money can be saved by turning off a home computer while at work? The answer to those questions may not be that far off.
A new San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) research study plans to test technology that can measure in-home electricity consumption down to the individual circuit and appliance level. The research will be supported by the Pecan Street Research Institute, a consumer energy research organization headquartered at the University of Texas at Austin.
Approximately 30-50 SDG&E customers living in the Civita master-planned development in Mission Valley will be selected to participate in the study. Civita, a Sudberry Properties development, is an SDG&E "Smart Community" project where smart grid technology is being integrated including solar panels, electric vehicle charging stations, fuel cell generation, battery storage and enhanced energy management tools for residents.
The research, which launched in August, will last for several months, and potentially longer.
"This research will take smart grid technology to a new level by providing among the most detailed energy usage data to customers through technology that is not even on the market yet," said John Sowers, SDG&E vice president for generation and resource planning. "Through the research study, SDG&E will learn how this in depth data can help customers to make smarter energy decisions and save money."
By understanding how customers use electricity at the circuit level, SDG&E hopes to identify ways to help tailor future utility programs related to home area networks, energy efficiency and demand response. Demand response programs signal customers when to reduce usage in order to meet resource demand when the grid is reaching capacity. This new knowledge could also allow SDG&E to recommend specific measures customers can take to both reduce usage and cost.
Pecan Street will provide volunteer participants with a free website and mobile application that provides real-time information on the customer's electricity use down to the appliance and circuit level as well as information on appliance, rooftop solar panel and home energy performance. The service is powered by an "energy data router" installed at the customer's circuit panel. The router is manufactured in California.
Pecan Street already operates this technology in nearly a thousand homes, apartments, businesses and public schools throughout Texas and, starting later this summer, in Colorado. Its work began in the Mueller neighborhood in Austin, built on the land of a former airport and redeveloped into a ground-breaking mix-used, sustainable urban neighborhood. A decade later, the 711-acre Mueller community is a bustling mini-city and among the world's largest LEED-ND certified communities.
Pecan Street researchers are particularly excited about the unique advanced energy technologies that SDG&E and Sudberry have built into the Civita community.
"If there is any place in the United States poised to define the energy system of the future, it's Civita," said Pecan Street president and CEO Brewster McCracken. "By participating in testing this new consumer energy service, San Diegans who live in Civita will have unprecedented real-time access to information on their home and appliance electricity use.
“They will also be playing a personal role in advancing public interest research on how to integrate cutting edge consumer energy services into a technologically advanced, highly efficient, low carbon energy system."
"This project is part of Sudberry's commitment to make Civita a regional example of a sustainable community," said Colton Sudberry of Sudberry Properties.
The Pecan Street Research Institute is a non-profit university-based scientific research organization. The Institute's public interest research focuses on advancing understanding and solutions addressing utility system reliability, climate change, renewable energy integration and customer needs and preferences.
Photo by Mark, Vicki, Ellaura, Mason
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.