Road Power Technology Offers New Fuel Option to Drivers
On the long road to global decarbonization in the transportation sector, there is no single universal solution. Progress in the electric vehicle market is slow and the use of public transportation can only reduce so many fuel-emitting vehicles on the road when rising populations continue to swell traffic overall more with each year. Realistically speaking, the planet needs intermediate solutions to bridge the long gap of time from where we are now until arriving in the highly sought after carbon-neutral future. For renewable energy, natural gas will play that role. For gas guzzling cars, perhaps, road powered vehicles will do the same.
In the UK, two veteran clean tech entrepreneurs, Andrew Howe and Andrew Dames, are developing Road Powered Electric Vehicle (RPEV) technology that could easily be fitted to major trunk roads/highways, using the same technique already established for traffic light presence detection. Under the company Ampium, Howe and Dames have combined their vast knowledge of induction systems to introduce on-board pick-up coils used to transfer grid electricity directly to any car, be it electric, hybrid or gasoline powered. The coil is a cost-effective, easy-to-install solution to heavy and expensive on-board energy storage batteries.
“The idea is that we can decarbonize the vehicle and solve the energy storage problem by removing the requirement of a battery on the vehicle,” says Howe. “We also wanted to ensure low cost infrastructures, so we adopted an existing standard used widely in the UK, Europe and US that involves putting wires into the road.”
Essentially, the road itself simply becomes another fuel option for the driver in the areas equipped with Road Power technology. The device could be added to any vehicle, truck or bus for a price as low as $1,500, according to rough estimates from consulting firms.
“We see the lightweight pickup coil as a hybrid solution—much cheaper than bulk energy storage that allows existing engines to continue running on their main source of fuel,” says Howe. “There's a significant margin available between the price of energy at your wheels coming from diesel versus the cost of grid electricity.”
Hitting Emissions Reduction Targets
The tail-pipe emissions-zapping device could play a large role in cutting the 428 million tons of carbon dioxide emitted annually in the country from vehicle transportation alone. Although the technology will only be immediately available throughout the UK, it will become available on main roads in high-trafficked areas, where the most damage is done.
“Because we're installing infrastructure, we're looking at places with short lengths frequently used by the repetitive drivers,” says Howe, adding that Ampium is now in talks with large bus manufacturers for trials.
In its infancy, Ampium expects public demonstrations of the technology to be available in the next one to two years, which is expected to include an initial bus route deployment. Last year, the company successfully demonstrated a power transfer of 20kW from the road into a Toyota Prius fitted with technology, enabling the vehicle to continuously receive the charge necessary to drive at speeds reaching the UK legal limit.
The long term success of RPEVs, however, will ultimately depend on collaboration between automotive manufacturers, road infrastructure providers, the electricity supply industry and technology providers.
“We’ve seen a great degree of interest from governments and automotive companies in our pioneering alternative fuel solution following the success of our tests so far,” Howe said in a statement. “Europe announced in July €10m of research funding for road power transfer and I believe that we will see public road demonstrations inside five years, probably first on buses but also HGVs which travel 65 percent of their miles on the approximately 6,000 miles of the UK’s trunk road network.
“In that time, how much higher will the price of a barrel of oil be?” Howe asks. “Considering the uptake of road transport around the world and our ability to meet growing demand for fuel will continue to drive this kind of technology now.”
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.