Gaining control of the essence of energy--the electron
Entrepreneur Justin Hall-Tipping questions the notion of 'normal' in terms of energy and how that can lead to some extraordinary breakthroughs. In his recent presentation at TEDGlobal 2011, Hall-Tipping describes how we can generate, use and store energy right from where we are. As both energy and water pose the most significant challenges to future global demands—especially in the developing world—Hall-Tipping believes he has found the answer in the simple electron.
Generating and Using Energy
When you think of carbon as a material, you generally think of it as black in color. At the nanoscale, however, things work and act very differently than the way we normally see them. At the nano-level, carbon is actually transparent and flexible.
In an experiment, Hall-Tipping discusses taking graphite, the most stable form of carbon, and blasting it with a vapor. When the vaporized carbon condenses, its form changes and it actually becomes a thousand more times conductive than copper. How is that possible? Again, elements act and appear differently at the nano-level.
By combining carbon with a polymer, which can then be affixed to a window (with great transparency and flexibility), its colored state can be changed and controlled. When it's in a colored state, it will reflect light and heat away, and when it's in its bleached state, it will let all the light and heat in, and any combination in between.
To change its state, all it takes are two volts at mili-second pulses. Once you change its state, it stays there until you change it again.
What if we didn't have to rely on artificial light to get around at night?
In combining two nano-materials, a detector and an imager, it's possible to take all the infrared light at night and convert it in the space of the two small films. Hall-Tipping says this enables you to “play an image that you can see through by taking infrared wavelengths and converting them into an electron.”
“Suddenly, you've converted energy into an electron on a plastic surface that you can stick on your window, and because it's flexible, it can go on any surface whatsoever,” he says.Therefore, “the power plant of tomorrow, is no power plant.”
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Storing free energy
Unfortunately, Hall-Tipping says that the best thing we have going in terms of storing energy is the lead acid battery in terms of dollars per watt stored.
E-box, however, is testing new materials that allows you to essentially park an electron and hold it until it's needed, enabling the generation of clean, efficient and cheap energy onsite. “If you don't need it, you can convert it back up onto the window and beam it onto another place,” Hall-Tipping says. Therefore, “the grid of tomorrow, is no grid.”
Hall-Tipping is optimistic that clean, efficient energy will one day be free. And if this can be accomplished, “you get the last puzzle piece, which is water.”
As water supplies diminish—as they already are in some parts of the world—we will have to turn to the ocean, which will require some $19 trillion of investment in desalination plants. These also require tremendous amounts of energy, or twice the world's supply of oil, to run the pumps to generate the water, according to Hall-Tipping.
“We're simply not going to do that,” he says. “But in a world where energy is freed and transmittable easily and cheaply, we can take any water wherever we are and turn it into whatever we need.”
Hall-Tipping believes these developments can remedy the cause of deaths of millions lacking clean water. And in order to change this, the answer is “to be able to get exquisite control over a building block of nature, the stuff of life, the simple electron.”
Watch the full presentation:
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.