TOP 10: Exciting New Developments in Energy
Without a doubt, the most exciting part about covering the happenings in the energy world have little to do with the industry's ills. It's easy to get caught up in the oil spills, rig explosions, lawsuits and arguments over fossil fuels' impact on the environment. But in the big picture, it's more important to look at the way “energy” is rapidly evolving with each and every year.
Some of the most ingenious entrepreneurs, scientists and engineers of our time can be found working passionately in this field, creating technologies most critical to the survival of our planet and mankind's ability to thrive in a tech-based world. In the process, entirely new industries are being developed with ideas to tap new sources of power that are literally out of this world.
Looking back at the year, Energy Digital has reviewed a number of the industry's most intriguing new developments:
Inventors of Solar Roadways turn high maintenance, expensive concrete roads and parking lots into glossy solar surfaces, providing enough energy from the sun to power nearby communities and the electric vehicles above them—one of the greatest infrastructure innovations of the 21st century.
Speaking of electric cars, today's EV market is starting to look a bit sexier than its first generation of plug-in nerd mobiles. Big luxury brand names like BMW, Rimac and Rolls Royce are all diving into the high-tech, luxurious cars of the future. Energy Digital compiled a list of some of the hottest, most exclusive EVs on the market today, worth an upwards of $1.6 million.
When it comes to transportation, the US Military is at the forefront of next generation fuel. By 2016, the US Navy is set to have a fleet of warships powered by alternative fuels: the Great Green Fleet. As the largest oil consuming government body in the world, the DoD's impact on the biofuels market will serve as a major catalyst for change across the country:
“In the 1850s, we went from sail to coal. In the early part of the 20th century, we went from coal to oil,” says Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. “In the 50s, we pioneered nuclear. We were the first service, first people to ever use nuclear power for transportation. And now, we’re changing it again. And every single time... you’ve got nay sayers, they say you’re trading one form of energy that you know about, that’s predictable... and you just shouldn’t do it. And every single time, they’ve been wrong and I’m absolutely confident they’re going to be wrong again."
In another faction of the military, the US Army uses a $7 billion procurement vehicle to spur industry competition in the largest series of renewable energy contracts in American history. It will serve as a test bed for new and advanced technologies that could be broadly commercialized:
“Just like GPS systems and the internet came out of the DoD first, the more involved we are with these projects, the more prices will come down and we'll start to see more renewables across the board,” says Bob Tritt, Co-Chair of the Military Base and Communities practice law firm McKenna Long & Aldridge.
Not only is the renewable energy industry expanding, but also seeing a lot of change within itself. Thanks to recent advancements in technology, tidal power is starting to gain recognition as one of the future's most promising forms of renewable energy. This year, EET earns attention in Australia for its revolutionary underwater turbine design, the SeaUrchin ™. A breakthrough in tidal/ocean current energy, the SeaUrchin brings new hope to a market with the potential to compete directly with base load coal and nuclear power generation.
Here's a scary thought: scientists are testing the idea of pumping water into the sides of a dormant volcano at pressures great enough to evoke small earthquakes. Why? Apparently, the boiling bowels beneath our feet hold tremendous promise for geothermal energy.
According to a report from MIT, two percent of the heat some six miles below the ground could provide 2,500 times as much energy as the country currently uses.
4. Hydrogen House Weathers the Storm
Using excess renewable energy generated from its solar panel arrays to run an electrolyzer that splits water into hydrogen and oxygen, the House can power itself with the stored hydrogen in safe low-pressure tanks onsite come rain or come shine. The inspiring technology is set to be featured in an upcoming documentary film next year.
Everyone knows about carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), but no one has believed in the world's ability to turn it into a large scale reality...until now. In Canada, SaskPower is challenging the historical setbacks of CCS, investing billions in one of the world's first and largest full production carbon capture facilities.
As the solar industry continues to rapidly advance and expand, its potential is limitless. Some ballsy companies are even turning to space, which could very well revolutionize the way the world uses and generates energy. But it doesn't stop at solar...
The most outlandish, aggressive and expensive energy project that stands out by far is the idea of exploiting raw materials from Near-Earth Asteroids.
"Everything we hold of value on Earth -- metals, minerals, energy, water, real estate -- are literally in near-infinite quantities in space," says X Prize Founder Peter H. Diamandis.
Backed by some of the world's richest men—including Diamandis, Director James Cameron, Google Executives and billionaire Ross Perot—Planetary Resources just may have enough dough to pull off next to anything. It's one part crazy, one part genius.
Will human ingenuity be able to keep up?
The future state of energy is no doubt one of the largest and most serious challenges facing the world today. Within a matter of decades, energy demand will more than double at a rate the world will find difficult to keep up with. The good news is that same fear has also provided a necessary catalyst for some of the most unimaginable, innovative solutions.
Man's ability to adapt, invent and survive never fails to surprise me, and that's why the market for energy continues to be one of the most exciting industries to cover. I look forward to what's to come in 2013...
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.