Swedish Man's Plan for Home Nuclear Reactor Foiled
Usually, Energy Digital is strictly business; but this story is so unusual and unprecedented that we just have to share it with the world. Apparently a Swedish man has been reprimanded for attempting to build a homemade nuclear reactor.
31-year-old Richard Handl foiled his own plans to construct a homemade nuclear reactor when he called the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority in July to ask if he was even allowed to build it. His seemingly harmless attempt to inquire as to the legalities of his research led to Swedish authorities storming Handl’s home in the small coastal town of Angelholm.
"We realized he probably had radioactive material at his home which you are not allowed to have without a permit, which was why the authorities decided to inspect his home," said Swedish Radiation Safety Authority research director Leif Moberj.
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The extensive inspection of Handl’s home uncovered radioactive material, including small amounts of Americium-241, an isotope commonly found in home smoke detectors. It is illegal to remove Americium-241 from smoke detectors as it can be very harmful if inhaled or swallowed. However, tests revealed that the amounts found in Handl’s home were not enough to warrant any danger to neighbors. The agency has yet to reveal what other types of radioactive materials were found.
Handl was quoted in the Helsingborgs Dagblad newspaper saying that he owns his own Geiger counter and had noticed no problems with radiation while conducting his experiments. His plan for a homemade reactor was never completed, although he reportedly had purchased most of what was needed to build one. All of his equipment has been confiscated by Swedish authorities. Handle told the newspaper that in the future he plans to keep his work strictly theoretical to avoid such investigations.
Moberj added that the incident was “extremely unusual. I haven’t heard of any similar things ever,” he said.
While Richard Handl’s plan to build his own small-scale nuclear reactor was foiled, I must applaud his candor. The garage scientists of the world are the unsung heroes of the energy arena. Tinkering in their workshops to develop exotic new ways to generate energy is exactly the kind of entrepreneurial spirit that will transform the energy sector and help truly achieve energy independence. While well-funded universities and billion dollar companies certainly pump out some amazing energy breakthroughs, homebound researchers aren’t limited by grant guidelines or third-party funding specifications, and are truly free to explore the boundaries of science. Kudos to all you garage scientists out there; but in your quest for the next big energy breakthrough, just be sure your not risking your health or the health of others with, say, illegal radioactive materials.
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.