May 17, 2020

Five clean energy technologies currently in the works

4 min
Solar Receiver by Solar Hydrogen Energy Corporation (SHEC)

Solar Receiver by Solar Hydrogen Energy Corporation (SHEC)
SHEC has been conducting research for the production of hydrogen via solar technology s...

Solar Receiver by Solar Hydrogen Energy Corporation (SHEC)
SHEC has been conducting research for the production of hydrogen via solar technology since 1996. The company has developed a suite of Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) technologies, including the world’s most efficient Solar Thermal Power (STP) technology, which works as a high-temperature heat carrier and high temperature thermal storage. SHEC’s patented technology, the very high efficiency solar receiver, has the ability solve such energy loss issues, as have been seen in other systems operating at higher temperatures.

Tom Beck, President and Chief Executive Officer, offers insight on the high-temp solar receiver: “This receiver is able to harness super concentrated sunlight to generate temperatures in the 850-degree C (1,532 F) range. This technology was originally developed to thermo-chemically produce hydrogen, but has now been adapted for power generation. Normally, at really high temperatures, such as 850 C, there is a lot of radiant-energy loss, also known as emissivity loss. This can account for a very large percentage of the energy collected with our system, being re-radiated. SHEC Energy only experiences a radiant-energy loss of between two and five percent at these temperatures.”

High Temperature Heat Carrier
Most traditional solar thermal power plants, like trough-based systems, utilize an oil substance, which operates on low-heat temperatures (390 C), for transporting heat from the receiver to the steam boiler. SHEC has developed high-temperature heat carrier technology, which is capable of transporting in excess of 900 C.

“This high-temperature solar collection and heat transport technology allows us to do a number of things: we can deliver much higher temperature heat to steam turbines, and thereby dramatically increase efficiency; and we can use very economical storage media to store high-temperature heat, and again operate turbines at much higher temperatures and efficiencies from storage,” explains Beck. “This is key to higher-efficiency power generation and key to the high-temperature thermal storage needed to maintain overall higher efficiencies in a stored energy system.”

Higher-temperature thermal storage
SHEC has also developed a high-temperature thermal storage unit which enables extended after-sunset operation of the plant and the use of very economical storage mediums. Beck says, “Storage is the holy grail of renewable energy, since the collection of renewable energy is intermittent.”

MotionPower™ by New Energy
New Energy is in the process of developing a technology for generating electricity from the kinetic energy that is lost when vehicles slow, or come to a stop on roadways. New Energy explains, “As millions of vehicles slow or come to a stop at toll plazas, rest areas, traffic calming areas, drive-thrus and countless other roadway points, their motion energy, derived from the burning of fossil fuels, is dissipated in brakes and lost as heat to the environment.”

The company has filed nine new patent applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, in addition to two international patent applications. New Energy believes, “Our MotionPower™ devices are engineered as a practical and useful alternative energy technology for generating clean electricity from the millions of vehicles on our roadways. More than 250 million vehicles are registered in America, and an estimated six-billion miles are driven on our nation’s roads every day.”

SolarWindow™ by New Energy
New Energy is also currently in the process of developing the first-of-its-kind SolarWindow™ technology. Essentially, this technology allows for electrical generation to occur when the world’s smallest-known organic solar cells are “sprayed” onto see-through glass windows.
The development of this technology marks the first time scientists have ever successfully developed and integrated environmentally-friendly, transparent compounds onto glass for the purpose of collecting electricity.

New Energy believes, “Once scaled-up for use in commercial-scale production, researchers anticipate the ability to spray solar coatings directly onto New Energy’s first-of-its-kind, see-through SolarWindow™—currently under development—could provide significant commercial production advantages over today’s thin-films.”

Conventional solar films are generally manufactured utilizing costly and slow manufacturing methods. General production methods involve high temperatures and “vacuum deposition” procedures designed to deposit solar materials onto substrates. Usually, the resulting product ends up being too thick to allow for transparency, which is a critical factor for the development of a commercially-viable, solar-powered glass window. The SolarWindow™ technology is also capable of generating electricity from artificial light, in addition to natural light sources.


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