May 17, 2020

The hoopla of the Hyperloop

Admin
3 min
Hyperloop
Have a hankering for a Dungeness crab dinner at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, but then want to have dessert while checking outSunset Stripin...

Have a hankering for a Dungeness crab dinner at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, but then want to have dessert while checking out Sunset Strip in Hollywood? That's a crazy request, right? You would need something out of science fiction to transport you that distance, that fast. 

Or maybe you just need the creative mind of Elon Musk.

The man behind the electric cars of Tesla Motors and the private space transport company SpaceX has thought of another way to travel – the Hyperloop.

Musk mentioned his idea, which would allow individuals to travel between Los Angeles and San Francisco in 30 minutes, earlier this year and the scientific, technology, and energy communities have since been all atwitter with speculation on how such a system would work.

Musk said it would be “a cross between a Concorde, a rail gun, and an air hockey table.” What does that mean? Will it be a giant pneumatic tube? It will all be done with high powered magnets, right? Air jets? Rubber bands and grease?

To move a person nearly 340 miles in 30 minutes you would need to be traveling at about 700 mph. To accomplish that there can be no friction and very little aerodynamic drag. Creating a vacuum would eliminate air resistance, but how would the vehicle be propelled? There is something called acoustic levitation.

According to Sebastian Anthony, of ExtremeTech.com, “This technique involves an acoustic phenomenon called standing waves — essentially, waves that are held in place by interference. If you imbue these waves with enough power (volume) and hit just the right frequency, you can levitate an object.

“Standing waves, as the name implies, don’t move — but [engineers] Björn Smedman and Charles Alexander both theorize that, if you pump these waves into a loop (which we assume the Hyperloop is), and change up the acoustic parameters slightly, then it might be possible to carry vehicles on the edge of these waves as they travel around the loop.

“If you pump enough power into the acoustic wave (i.e. increase the amplitude), the air density increases but the relative air velocity drops. In effect, the vehicle in the wave is stationary, in reference to its surroundings. Eventually, as the sound wave gets stronger and stronger, you achieve almost adiabatic travel — travel that loses no energy at all to the environment via drag or friction.”

The project would have a price tag of about $6 billion, which seems expensive until you realize that there is a high-speed rail service system being proposed to connect Los Angeles and San Francisco for about $60 billion.  

Also, Musk insists his Hyperloop would not use existing tunnels and would be powered only by solar energy. Plus, he has said that this system “can never crash” and would be “immune to weather.”

Is he about to reinvent mass transportation or will this be his Segway (Dean Kamen’s overhyped personal transport vehicle)? The world will find out on Aug. 12 when Musk will reveal his plans for the Hyperloop. Then, perhaps, we can get back to enjoying that delicious Dungeness crab dish. 

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Oct 19, 2020

Itronics successfully tests manganese recovery process

cleantech
manganese
USA
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.

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