Natural Gas Threatens Biofuels?
Clean Energy Fuels, a leading natural gas provider in Seal Beach, has teamed up with Quarles Petroleum Inc. to bring customers alternative fuel, priced at $1.50 per gallon less than diesel or gasoline, at select locations.
“Many of our customers are interested in natural-gas-powered vehicles for their fleets. In response, we have partnered with Clean Energy, the nation’s leading supplier of natural gas fuel for transportation, to meet our customers’ needs for natural gas fuel,” said Ben Wafle, president of Quarles, to OC Metro.
According to Clean Energy representatives, an estimated 98 percent of natural gas comes from the US and Canada. With the capability of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by up to 30 percent in light-duty vehicles, its use would also significantly lower fuel costs for users.
“With the expanding availability of light-, medium- and heavy-duty natural gas vehicles, fleet operators across the nation are transitioning to natural gas power. Among their goals are reducing costs, adding fuel diversity to their fleets, curtailing harmful emissions and helping reduce America’s dependence on imported oil,” Greg Roche, vice president of national accounts & infrastructure for Clean Energy, added to OC Metro's news release.
In Iowa, natural gas is expected to outpace the biofuels industry, threatening a $15 billion-plus industry of ethanol and biodiesel production. Next month, Iowa's first natural gas pump will open at the Krueger's BP on Highway 141 in northwest Des Moines, expecting to sell for the equivalent of around $2 per gallon. Furthermore, a natural gas powered Noble, selling for around $16,000, joins the 2012 Honda Natural Gas Civic series and was on display at the Gene Gabus Des Moines Imports dealership last month.
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Eventually, natural gas-powered car owners can expect to be able to fill their vehicles from their home gas lines, according to James Huyser, director of business development for NatGas of Ankeny, a natural gas distributor that is helping to shepherd the introduction of natural gas into the Iowa automotive market.
While the development of biofuels remains unfinished, natural gas is already taking off across the country. Looking beyond biodiesel as an alternative to high-priced diesel fuel, domestic production of natural gas is on the rise in the US for the first time in almost 40 years. Increasing at an annual rate of up to 7 percent, enormous fields have opened up in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
Dependence on imported crude oil has dropped considerably, but biofuels advocates fear a natural gas boom threatens renewables in addition to other environmental drawbacks. Regardless, biofuels technology lags behind the great potential of the natural gas industry as it takes aim at the truck market. It's too soon to say, but for now, biofuels seem to lack the commercial technology to compete.
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.