US Dominating Cellulosic Ethanol Market
Ethanol is the most widely acclaimed alternative or additive for gasoline used for running vehicles, and the US ranked as number one producer of this biofuel using natural waste feedstock, states new analysis by research and consulting firm GlobalData.
According to the latest report, the US is the global leader in cellulosic ethanol production, manufacturing 5.42m gallons in 2012.
Bio-ethanol is produced through the fermentation of cellulosic feedstock such as forest and agricultural waste. The US boasts an abundance of this biomass feedstock, and dedicated energy crops such as Switchgrass and Miscanthus are grown exclusively for conversion into cellulosic ethanol to help the nation’s ambition to meet fuel needs while reducing Green House Gas (GHG) emissions.
The US is the only country currently working to promote the cellulosic ethanol market, with the US Department of Energy (US DOE) providing grants to help companies establish a commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant. As a result, several companies have set up pilot and demonstration plants and a few commercial plants are expected to be commissioned in late 2013.
The US has also mandated the addition of 10% ethanol in gasoline fuel, setting steady domestic demand for the industry, while certain recently released cars are able to run on a 85% ethanol, 15% gasoline mix.
Corn stover and wheat straw are among the most freely available types of feedstock used in countries producing cellulosic ethanol, and growing ethanol demand may see these nations utilizing the residue of their corn crop for ethanol production, creating a sizable market for agricultural waste. GlobalData expects that the growing feedstock demand will create a structured market, in which biomass feedstock prices will be set based on their ethanol yield and the prevailing trading price of ethanol.
Some EU countries such as France and Italy have cellulosic ethanol production infrastructure, but a limited supply of biomass feedstock. Growth of commercial production in these countries may fuel the need to import feedstock from nearby countries or expand production to other countries with ample feedstock availability. A few producers with upcoming commercial scale plants in the US have already started signing agreements to procure agricultural residue and other kinds of cellulosic feedstock.
Global cellulosic ethanol is expected to increase from 14.25m gallons in 2012 to 412.25m gallons in 2020, with commercial production anticipated to take off on a large scale in late 2013 and 2014, thanks to major players adding substantial production capacity and new companies joining the market. The US is expected to retain its market dominance until 2020.
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.