Tidal Energy Slowed by ROCs
Written by Jonah Heller
Unlike many elements of the natural world, tidal fluctuation occurs twice everyday, with almost clocklike precision. But capturing the highly predictable ebb and flow of tides as a renewable energy source is not quite as simple.
Similar to hydroelectric power, tidal energy is captured as water flows across a fence or dam, which spins a turbine, generating electricity.
One setback is that tidal flow isn't continuous, and goes to zero while transitioning between high and low tides. Therefore the potential power generated from tide dams is estimated to be less than half that of river dams, while the costs are almost identical.
The moon, gravitational fields, and pure economics dictate that only absolutely ideal locations be developed with this type of sustainable technology. Additionally, the Department of Energy has claims that only 40 such locations exist on earth.
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In comparison to other renewable energy sources, tidal energy is relatively expensive. But Blue Energy of Canada is optimistic they can generate electricity at rates less than $0.05 per kWh, putting them in competition with traditional power companies.
In other parts of the globe companies are slightly less hopeful. The United Kingdom for example, where the probability of building a large scale tidal energy facility is very much dependent on Renewable Obligation Certificates or ROC's.
At the moment the future of renewable energy and ROC's in the UK is unclear. David Robinson CEO of PD Ports Group based in the UK has said “There is a major reluctance to invest in this sector until the government sets the level for ROC's which will determine what proportion of their power that UK electricity suppliers must generate from renewable resources”. Until that time, projects are likely to sit on hold.
Peel Energy, a UK development group headquartered has been planning to install a tidal power system in the Mersey Estuary (near Liverpool) since 2005. But with a £3.5 billion ($5.63 billion) price tag, the project is currently stalled and unlikely to move forward without an increased subsidy.
Unfortunately, it looks like the tide could be going out for this renewable energy source, but only time will tell.
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.