So Eco Chic: Fashion Introduces Solar Panel Clothing
Written by Heather Rushworth
For centuries, the couture fashion industry has thrived as an escapist sector, a market of luxury indulgences, where consumers can revel in buying something ornately extravagant...with little practical value. Yet the recent technology boom, with its flood of multi-functional devices, may have complicated the desires of once simple fashion buyers. Perhaps the future may bring clothing that does more than, well, clothe?
The newest trend in fashion seems to indicate such a movement, as a number of fashion brands have released clothing options that incorporate the charging potential of solar technology.
Energy minded customers who hunger for clever unisex outerwear, need not look further than the Los Angeles based clothing company Silvr Lining. The innovative brand incorporates renewable energy technology into jackets, vests and cargo pants. Harnessing the genius of an electrical engineer, the company developed their cutting-edge line with the goal of supplying a wearable energy station for eco-conscious buyers looking to live, “off the grid.”
At $800 dollars a pop, this outerwear prominently displays book sized solar panels, (a tenacious design move which is bound to start eco-minded street conversation,) and they claim to emit enough charge from the sun rays to power an assortment of handheld devices from iPods to cell phones.
For the shopper who prefers to solar-power their devices while wearing a more scantily clad option, the fashion designer Andrew Schneider has designed the perfect pair of threads to folic in: a solar panel bikini.
Constructed of a flexible solar panel fabric, the suit is totally waterproof, and has a 5 volt USB port to charge personal devices on. For an affordable $200, sun bathers can finally spend the entire day tanning while texting, without worrying about their cell phone dying mid-Facebook update.
Another solar-fashion trailblazer, Noon, a female owned company based out of Chicago sells custom, handmade purses and totes outfitted with a built in flexible solar panel. The designers claim these handbags glean enough power from the sun to charge a flurry of handheld devices, and the products’ benefits do not end there. The handbags are also created out of all compostable materials, and styled with water based dyes. The comprehensive eco-bags may certify their wearer as the epitome of green chic, but they cost some major green as well, ranging from $400-$500 in price.
If considered with blind optimism, these solar-powered clothing products may indicate a cavalry of renegade trailblazers, visionaries with strong conviction that the future of fashion will offer more than just mono-function duds. Yet if considered with a more discriminatory eye, these fashion ideas seem downright hokey and as technologically useful as a tin can phone.
Firstly, the price points of these designs do not suggest a mass shift in purchasing; at upwards of 800 dollars a pop, these high tech products are obviously designed for the elite few. This cost does not justify the product, as their teensy voltage, and pathetic surface area would necessitate extremely long periods of sun exposure on the part of the wearer. The jackets in particular are confusing, as the bulky weight of the fabric, coupled with the necessary sunlight needed for it to function is bound to result in some degree of heat stroke on the part of the wearer.
Also, technology has already deemed these products obsolete, as new long lasting batteries are set to hit the market, allowing devices to run for as long as a month off of a single charge. So unless you are planning an immediate bikini-excursion through the Sahara desert, and you simply have to bring your Blackberry, do yourself a favor, and save your money to buy something useful…like a car charger.
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.