May 17, 2020

Euro start-ups earn cleantech awards

3 min
ECF Farmsystems won the Global Ideas Award
[email protected] Aquaponic farming start-up ECF Farmsystems, supported by Climate-KIC Germany, won the overall prize of the Gobal Ideas Competition...

Aquaponic farming start-up ECF Farmsystems, supported by Climate-KIC Germany, won the overall prize of the Gobal Ideas Competition.

The winning team, ECF Farmsystems from Germany, was our first-ever Global Ideas Winner focused on agriculture,” said Kevin Braithwaite, chair of the Cleantech Open Global Ideas Competition. “As 14 to 24 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and 70 percent of humanity's fresh water usage are as a direct result of agricultural activity, ECF Farmsystems could have a major impact far outside Germany.”

The competition brings early-stage start-ups with breakthrough clean-tech ideas to Silicon Valley to compete for the Global Ideas Award. It is organized by U.S.-based Cleantech Open, the world's largest clean-technology accelerator.

Read about more smart energy ideas:

Top 10 Smart Energy Ideas

Top Renewable Energy Companies

Top 10 states for renewable energy jobs

For the finals, 28 teams from around the world convened in San Jose, Calif., to pitch their businesses. After two days of intensive judging, a group of five winners were selected to present to a final jury of investors and technology experts.

Three out of the five finalists were European start-ups supported by Climate-KIC, Europe's largest public-private innovation partnership focused on mitigating and adapting to climate change, and took home the overall prizes of their categories.

“The very positive result for Europe in this global competition shows that Climate-KIC's acceleration program is paying off,” said Hero Prins, Climate-KIC's entrepreneurship director. “Our start-ups are leading the way and act as role models for a new business culture across Europe.”

ECF Farmsystems

Start-up ECF Farmsystems picked up the main prize of the competition, the Global Ideas Award. The company is enrolled in Climate-KIC's acceleration program in Berlin, Germany, and has developed scalable aquaponic farm systems, which have the potential to dramatically reduce water usage and carbon emissions.

In addition to winning the overall award, ECF harvested a number of other awards: the People's Choice Award for their technology pitch, and the overall winner in the Agriculture, Water and Waste category.

“It is a great recognition to be part of this fantastic event,” said Nicolas Leschke, CEO of ECF Farmsystems. “All clean-tech start-ups are winners because we dedicate our lives to leaving a mark for future generations.”

Eternal Sun

Solar start-ups Eternal Sun was announced as overall winner in the Energy Efficiency category. The company is supported by Climate-KIC in the Netherlands and is based in Delft.

The company supplies innovative and accurate solar simulation technology that enables customers to accurately test the performance and reliability of products in the solar photovoltaic, solar thermal, chemical, and bioenergy industries.

Naked Energy

The third Climate-KIC start-up to make it to the finals was Naked Energy, which won the overall award in the Energy Generation category.

Naked Energy is supported by Climate-KIC in London, UK, and has developed an innovative, highly efficient hybrid solar technology that generates combined heat and power.


Climate-KIC, based in London, UK, is the European Union's largest public-private innovation partnership focused on mitigating and adapting to climate change. Climate-KIC consists of companies, academic institutions and the public sector.

“There is a real and imminent need for clean technologies. It is great to see Climate-KIC's start-ups get global recognition - bringing Europe's new entrepreneurial efforts in this field to the forefront,” Prins said.

Climate-KIC currently has centers in France, Germany, The Netherlands, Switzerland and the UK and is represented in the regions of Valencia, Central Hungary, Emilia Romagna, Lower Silesia, Hessen and the West Midlands.

Climate-KIC is one of the Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) created in 2010 by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), the EU body tasked with creating sustainable European growth while dealing with the global grand challenges of our time.

Cleantech Open

U.S.-based Cleantech Open runs the world's largest clean-tech accelerator. Its mission is to find, fund and foster entrepreneurs with big ideas that address today's most urgent energy, environmental and economic challenges.

Since 2006, through its annual business competition and mentorship program, the Cleantech Open has enabled 727 clean-tech startups to bring their breakthrough ideas to fruition, helped its alumni companies raise more than $800 million in external capital, and created thousands of green-collar jobs.

Share article

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.

Share article