May 17, 2020

Southern Eyes First U.S. Nuclear Reactors in 3 Decades

Southern
Co.
company
Nuclear
Admin
2 min
Southern Co. seeks licenses from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to build two new nuclear reactors after a three decade development freeze
Atlanta-based Southern Co. is seeking approval from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a development license to construct two new nuclear react...

Atlanta-based Southern Co. is seeking approval from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a development license to construct two new nuclear reactors, the first new reactors in the U.S. in three decades.  The proposed $14 billion project must be delivered on time and on budget says Southern CEO Thomas Fanning.

“We’ve got to be successful,” Fanning says. “This is the first, best shot for the nuclear renaissance in America.”

In the early 1980s, nuclear expansion projects across the U.S. slowed to a halt as budgets were overrun, construction delays became the norm, and regulations increased following the Three Mile Island incident in 1979. 

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Despite the Fukushima meltdown in Japan far surpassing Three Mile Island in terms of damage and fallout, Southern is steadfast in its pursuit of the Plant Vogtle project outside of Augusta, Georgia.

Southern plans to license the plant by early 2012.  However, there is one major hurdle the company needs to overcome.  The NRC must approve design changes for the Westinghouse AP1000 reactors that Southern is planning on using to power the Vogtle plant. 

A lot of pressure rests on Southern’s shoulders.  Analysts predict that if the company fails in its efforts, this may be the end of large-scale nuclear reactors in the U.S.  Small modular reactors may still have a chance, or the country may move away from nuclear entirely. 

Southern and its partners have already invested $3 billion into the site since 2009.  So far, the project is on budget and on schedule to begin providing nuclear power by 2016 or 2017.  Georgia taxpayers will contribute $6.1 billion to the project’s costs through rate hikes.  The U.S. government has also pledged loan guarantees totaling $8.3 billion.

“We remain confident in the process,” Fanning says. “We fully understand that this is the first nuclear project in a generation. And therefore it will have everyone’s attention.”

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Oct 19, 2020

Itronics successfully tests manganese recovery process

cleantech
manganese
USA
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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