May 17, 2020

IBM Tackles Big Data to Deliver Advanced Power Grid

energy digital
Smart Grid
4 min
Texans have already seen a 10% decrease in energy use
IBM (NYSE:IBM) recently announced a big data project with Oncor, the largest electric delivery company in Texas, that delivers an advanced power grid...


IBM (NYSE:IBM) recently announced a big data project with Oncor, the largest electric delivery company in Texas, that delivers an advanced power grid to help ensure efficient electricity delivery and enable more than 3 million Texas homes and businesses to play a more active role in helping conserve energy.

The new intelligent system provides Oncor with pinpoint access and insight into billions of data measurement points, from advanced meters and networking devices, to transmission sensors, power lines and generation plants. The project will also enable consumers to better manage energy consumption via an interactive web portal. To date, many Texan households have noted a 10 percent decrease in energy usage since the implementation. 

Oncor is the largest regulated electric distribution and transmission company in Texas. With more than 118,000 miles of transmission and distribution lines, Oncor delivers power to more than 3 million homes and businesses in a service territory that includes Dallas and Fort Worth in North Texas and reaches to western, southern and eastern parts of the state. By the end of this year, the company plans to have installed approximately 3.2 million advanced meters across Texas.

“We want to take the lead in our industry on bringing the benefits of the advanced grid, including fewer outages and more customer control over bills, to the people we serve” said Joel Austin, Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Oncor.

“While we specialize in delivering reliable electricity, we need top-notch technology partners like IBM to give us better ability to capture and manage data. Through this partnership, we’re able to maintain our commitment to driving consumer engagement, while maintaining the high reliability and efficiency our customers expect from us.”


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Working with IBM and business partners Ecologic Analytics and Landis+Gyr, Oncor completed an advanced grid project that integrates an advanced metering system with a sophisticated outage management system. The consolidated solution receives data every 15 minutes from Oncor’s currently installed 3 million advanced meters and pushes relevant information to and from Oncor offices and customer's personal, interactive web portals. 

“As more utility companies embrace smart grids, we’re actually helping turn the traditional customer into a highly informed, environmentally conscious consumer who wants to play a role in reducing energy consumption,” said Michael Valochi, Vice President, Global Energy & Utilities Leader, IBM. “IBM is dedicated to working with utilities to help them add layers of digital intelligence into grids, using big data as a way to understand, monitor and control the flow of energy across all operations.”

The metering system provides near real time insight into energy usage, enabling consumers to play an active role in monitoring and conserving energy – a concept that can help reduce consumption by up to 40 percent, as evidenced by Oncor’s Biggest Energy Saver contest. Through the advanced metering solution, customers can access near real-time information about how much electricity they use throughout the day and which appliances and devices in the home consume the most power. This helps customers make smarter decisions about how and when they consume electricity, save money on their electric bills and reduce energy consumption.

The outage management system automatically reports power issues and outages within seconds, and flags emerging, potential issues in the grid. Oncor can respond quickly to resolve issues before they escalate; in fact, the new system has detected more than 20 percent of outages before customers called. For example, in March 2012, the system reported an early morning distribution failure that a field crew repaired before customers noticed.  Of the more than 1,400 notifications automatically received from the outage system in March and April 2012, more than half resulted in the outage being resotred before a customer reported it. 

The smart grid is based on IBM hardware and software, including IBM POWER7 Servers and IBM Informix database software to manage the massive amounts of data produced by the smart meters. As a result of using Informix software instead of their prior data management solution: 
· Meter data was loaded 20 times faster, and query performance increased up to 30 times faster. This is significant because faster processing of meter data enables faster business processes that use that data (such as meter-to-cash), and faster data analysis.
· Data storage needs were reduced by 70 percent and remained linear over time, allowing for predictable data storage requirements and significant cost savings. 




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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.

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