The German Model City of Mannheim's Smart Grid
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Written by Eugen Mayer
Germany has become a pioneer in the concept of the smart city and has created the E-Energy funding program, which links energy-saving technologies with communications systems, and has resulted in a series of trial smart cities across the country. Broadband power lines (BPL) have become the preferred communications technology for E-Energy deployments. Leading the field is Mannheim, which is Germany's first smart city. It is using BPL to connect every household in the city to its cutting-edge smart energy network. The ‘Model City of Mannheim’ (MoMa) project focuses on integrating a high load of intermittent energy sources and decentralized generation into the existing city grid in a bid to boost efficiency and raise awareness of renewable energy amongst consumers. It is hoped that the MoMa project will encourage the public to take personal responsibility for their power consumption.
The first households are already benefiting from new technologies including the 'Energy Butler' gateway, which monitors the grid to obtain real-time pricing information from the utility and connects many household appliances including dishwashers, fridges, and tumble dryers. The gateway then relays dynamic pricing information back to the consumer, giving them greater control over their energy consumption, as well as relieving stress on the grid by shifting the use of certain appliances to off-peak periods. Business and industrial clients are also connecting their cooling facilities and air conditioning systems to the project.
The MoMa project is being run on a BPL platform provided by Power Plus Communications (PPC). PPC is also giving its backing to other pioneering projects within Mannheim, including various smart metering solutions, and a distributed and micro generation project. The company's BPL system is being used to enable the use of CCTV video surveillance to protect installations and assets across the city, and for public lighting control. Elsewhere in Germany E.ON Westfalen Weser is using PPC's BPL system on medium voltage cables connecting substations as part of smart grid trials within its network of 1.3 million people. An average bandwidth of more than 13 Mbps with 24 ms latency has been achieved at the 20 kV level. The Cisco smart grid routers and switches being used in the project have proven highly compatible with the BPL networks, providing a real cost advantage over fiber optics - which can be much more expensive where there are no pre-existing cables.
Eugen Mayer, COO of Power Plus Communications
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.