May 17, 2020

New Global Energy Requirements' Impact on Construction

energy digital
energy requirements
4 min
Buildings account for nearly 40% energy used in the U.S.
The International Code Council, responsible for energy efficiency standards for buildings in the U.S., recently issued an update of the 2012 Internati...


The International Code Council, responsible for energy efficiency standards for buildings in the U.S., recently issued an update of the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). Among other changes, the 2012 code contains more stringent requirements for insulation in new buildings throughout most of the United States in order to improve the energy efficiency of buildings.

Energy conservation is a matter of growing importance in the U.S., where buildings account for nearly 40 percent of total energy consumption and 70 percent of electricity use. Although China's energy consumption is highest in the world, the U.S. ranks number one in per capita use. Due to its significance, the building industry committed itself to make a valuable contribution to reduce per capita energy use in the U.S. This commitment is reflected in the goals set by the U.S. building industry, along with the American Institute of Architects (AIA), to significantly reduce fossil fuel consumption and reach carbon neutrality by 2030.

Heimo Scheuch , CEO of the largest brick company in the world, Wienerberger AG – headquartered in Austria – was in the U.S. recently to discuss the impact of 2012 energy code requirements on the construction industry and simple solutions for code compliance. 

Code compliance can be a significant hurdle for architects, builders and contractors, who need easy-to-install, efficient and cost-effective building solutions. The new minimum standard for insulation will be R20, where R-value is the measure of heat flow resistance. As a result, the traditional 2x4-inch framed wall with batt insulation does not meet the 2012 code.

Code compliance can now be achieved in two ways: using 2x6-inch studs with batt insulation OR by adding continuous sheet insulation to 2x4-inch stud construction. Continuous sheet insulation attached to studs creates a "wall" next to exterior brick and minimizes heat loss by providing a weather-resistant barrier. Brick is one of the world's oldest green building materials: The unique combination of durability and thermal mass properties of brick – as compared to other exterior building materials – significantly decreases the load on heating and cooling systems.

Brick is a "breathing" material and thereby guarantees not only a healthy indoor climate but also balances temperatures. In contrast to many other building materials, brick absorbs temperatures, which keeps a home or office cool during the warmer months and warm during the cooler months. This is why building with brick supports lower energy consumption.

Scheuch stresses the economic rationale of a brick house.

"You can not only save energy costs with a brick house, but maintenance costs are very low; and due to its longevity, resale prices are significantly higher," Scheuch says. "A brick house keeps its value and quality over a long lifetime."

Wienerberger's North American subsidiary, General Shale, based in Johnson City, Tenn., offers superior building solutions with bricks, which are already in full compliance with the code. Scheuch points to General Shale's offerings of traditional brick, thin veneers and Endurance RS4™ Structural Brick, which are – when combined with continuous insulation – ideal solutions for meeting the new energy code requirements, with minimal labor and cost adjustments. Endurance RS4™ Brick, the company's most recent product innovation, is designed for structural longevity. The RS4 stands for "Real Strong, Real Safe, Real Sustainable, Real Smart."

Oversized for safer, stronger, more sustainable and energy-efficient construction, this product eliminates the need for load-bearing wood or steel framing and has excellent thermal mass properties. In addition, the product is suitable for any type of foundation, withstands higher loads and meets seismic requirements. Brick makes a building very solid and more resistant against hurricanes, fires and earthquakes. This is also reflected by insurance rates, which may be lower for a brick house than for any other material.  

"Since our company was founded more than 80 years ago, the nature of our business has been sustainable building," says General Shale President and CEO Dick Green . "Brick is the ultimate construction material for environmental concerns and energy savings, and we are proud to offer a variety of products and solutions to make code compliance easier."

Recognizing the importance of reversing America's trend with regards to energy, the U.S. government and organizations such as AIA; American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE); International Code Council (ICC); and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) work to provide design and construction standards to maximize energy efficiency.

Source: PR Newswire

Edited by Carin Hall

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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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