May 17, 2020

Smart meters now utilized by major utilities companies

4 min
Smart Meters

Enel S.p.A. Smart Metering System
Italian company, Enel, introduced its smart metering system in 2005, and has since acquired a total of 32 million...

Enel S.p.A. Smart Metering System
Italian company, Enel, introduced its smart metering system in 2005, and has since acquired a total of 32 million customers, who are remotely managed and serviced. According to Enel, “The Smart Metering System is one of the fundamental building blocks for the development of the Smart Grids, which adapt the grids to the new electrical market scenario.” The main functionalities of the meters are: transmitting data on energy consumption; receiving updates of the contractual parameters; and managing supply connectivity.

As the deployment of the system proved successful in Italy, the company now intends to extend its application to additional distribution grids within the Enel Group. Enel is currently working toward adapting the system and field components to meet the needs of the Spanish market. 13 million smart meters are expected to be installed during the period from 2010 through 2015 for the Endesa grid. The Endesa system was awarded the European Utility Award in the category of Business Performance at the Metering Europe 2009 event.

The system is also due to be adapted for the remote management of gas meters, so that the gas distribution grid can also see the same advantages as electrical smart metering.

Pacific Gas &Electric (PG&E)
The SmartMeter™ system deployed by California-based PG&E is used for the collection of electric-and-natural-gas usage data from residents or businesses. The program was developed as a statewide effort to upgrade the energy infrastructure of California. Electrical data is collected in 15-minute increments, and gas meters are recorded on a daily basis. Data is then transmitted through a secure wireless communications network. The system is currently in the process of being rolled out to PG&E customers, by which 10 million meters are expected to be installed by mid-2012. According to PG&E, “This technology is the cornerstone of the smart grid that will modernize the electric system to be stronger, smarter and more efficient. The SmartMeter™ program is also essential to encouraging growth in renewable energy sources, laying the foundation for a low-carbon economy, and empowering consumers to understand and reduce their energy use and monthly costs.”

PG&E continuously works toward resolving any flaws or customer concerns that have been presented. In August, the company announced the formation of the SmartMeter™ Technical Advisory Panel (TAP), which consists of a group of experts, regulators, stakeholders and customers, who review the impact of the program on customers so that PG&E can follow best practices during the rollout program. "As we continue to expand the customer benefits of our SmartMeter™ program and participate in the state's evolution toward a smart grid for all Californians, we want to make sure our technology rollout empowers our customers to take charge of their energy use, follows the best practices available, and helps California achieve a low-carbon, clean-energy economy," said Bill Devereaux, senior director of PG&E's SmartMeter™ program. "The Technical Advisory Panel will ensure that PG&E hears a wide range of opinions on the meter program and the future of the smart grid. They will have our customers first and foremost on their minds."

First Utility
The UK-based utility company is the first to partner with Google for the development of the Google PowerMeter. The tool can be used by any customers with an installed smart meter. Google PowerMeter obtains electrical-usage data from the First Utility smart meter, and it is then displayed on a personalised iGoogle homepage. First Utility customers can see near-real-time information, allowing for easily accessible energy consumption details. According to First Utility, “We're the only energy supplier to update electricity data every half-hour.” The First Utility smart meters are designed to provide its UK customers with exact energy-usage information, rather than an estimate as do conventional energy monitor units.

Meridian Energy
New Zealand energy provider, Meridian Energy, established the use of smart meters in 2005 in the Christchurch area. Through its wholly-owned subsidiary company, Arc Innovations, the company has developed, deployed and is now managing the use of over 130,000 advanced meters across New Zealand. The company is the first in the Australasia area to deploy large-scale smart metering. Chief Executive of Arc Innovations Simon Clarke said, "In Christchurch we are well on our way to being the first smart city in the Asia Pacific region."

In 2005, the Dutch utility, Oxxio, put electric and gas smart metering systems into action throughout the Netherlands. In order to comply with the National Energy Reduction Plan, in 2007, the Dutch government announced its requirement that all seven million households in the country have a smart metering system by the year 2013. The rollout of the meters was delayed in 2008 and completely halted in 2009 due to potential privacy concerns among consumers. The smart meter systems are now an option for customers, as opposed to being mandatory. Oxxio is the fourth-largest electricity and natural gas supplier in the Dutch market, serving approximately 800,000 customers. The company is owned by British company, Centrica, which plans to rollout around two million smart meters to British customers by 2012.


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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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