Category Archives: Energy

Ending #China’s Chokehold on Rare-Earth Minerals

The fundamental challenge is economic. America’s goal should be secure supply chains, not national autarky of supply. The U.S. should do this by promoting domestic production; diversifying mineral imports away from China; cooperating with allies to insulate each other from Chinese control; developing multiple alternative supply chains; stockpiling rare earths to create shock absorbers in case of a crisis; and reducing demand by investing in alternatives.

Start with the fundamentals. Rare-earth elements exist in small quantities not easily separable from surrounding detritus. Significant known deposits exist in China, Brazil, Canada, Australia and India, as well as in the deep seabed. Sixteen of the 17 rare earths exist in the U.S. at a single west Texas site currently under development. 

Their extraction and treatment is expensive and environmentally damaging, yet they are essential to $7 trillion in finished products. Wealthy countries have made licensing harder and raised other barriers, pushing the industry to China and Malaysia, where low labor costs and weak environmental enforcement make them economical.

As a report  this year from the Colorado School of Mines concluded, “China’s strength is in refining those Rare Earth oxides into metallic alloys to manufacture end-products.” Breaking China’s monopoly will require development of processing plants and supply chains outside Beijing’s control.

China dominates the global market in rare-earth minerals, producing 70% of the world’s exports. But this isn’t a gift of nature — it’s the result of 15 years of industrial policy. The Chinese government identified a critical economic chokehold, invested in building companies, subsidized production to underprice and ultimately destroy competition, and then constructed a monopoly.

Read more at: https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2020-09-18/ending-china-s-chokehold-on-rare-earth-minerals

#Nasa is looking for private companies to help mine the #moon

NASA has announced it is looking for private companies to go to the moon and collect dust and rocks from the surface and bring them back to Earth.

https://www.lpi.usra.edu/lunar/strategies/SP509-3-Materials.pdf

Recommendations on page – 151

Read more at: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2020/sep/11/nasa-moon-mining-private-companies

#NYTimes: #Indonesia Regulator Eases Lending Rules for Electric Vehicles

Indonesia is keen to create a full nickel supply chain industry, starting from mining the ore, extract nickel chemicals used in EV batteries, down to building EVs at home.

Indonesia this year stopped exports of unprocessed nickel ore to ensure its nickel supply will be processed domestically, including for the battery chemical plants that are currently under constructions.

Indonesia sets an ambitious target on the adoption of electric vehicles (EV) with 2.1 million e-motorcycles and 2,200 e-cars expected to take the road by 2025. However, the availability of charging infrastructure and expensive price of EV remain to be the main challenges for the EV adoption.

The Indonesian government put high hopes on e-motorcycles adoption, while the development of e-cars is directed at certain areas, such as tourist areas, industries, and offices. The government also aimed the electric vehicles to be used as public transportation and operational vehicles.

Read more at: https://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2020/09/04/world/asia/04reuters-indonesia-electric.html

#Reuters: #Canada’s Midland in #nickel exploration funding deal with #BHP

Midland Exploration Inc said on Monday it had struck a funding deal with a subsidiary of BHP Group Plc for nickel exploration in the Canadian province of Quebec.

The company’s partnership with Rio Algom Ltd to explore nickel in Nunavik comes as demand for the metal surges from use in automotive batteries to power electric cars.

Read more at: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-midland-bhp-grp/canadas-midland-in-nickel-exploration-funding-deal-with-bhp-idUSKBN25K1L7

#Forbes: The Rise Of #CarbonTech – #CO2 Finds Market Value

id25744_1l

Exciting things are happening in the world of carbon capture. A new category of companies are coming to market that are using technological innovation to turn excess CO2 into useful, marketable products. They are calling themselves “CarbonTech” or “Carbon to Value” and proposing that carbon waste can be turned into products of real value.

According to the 2018 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), humanity will need to reduce its global carbon budget significantly in the next 10 to 14 years to avoid the existential threat of severe and catastrophic climate change. Carbon buildup in the atmosphere over the past hundred years is already causing tangible impacts such as the recent flooding in Mozambique, the California fires and the severe storms which have afflicted major portions of the US.

There are fundamentally three ways to reduce the carbon budget to meet the IPCC goals.

One pathway to reducing the carbon budget, already in practice worldwide, is to lower the demand for fossil fuels in the energy, transportation and agricultural sectors while simultaneously bringing electricity, food and good transportation to the developing world. This requires changes to many entrenched systems, which move slowly—policy, business/industry and agriculture are all sectors that need modifications to business-as-usual. All will require technological and business model innovation. Thanks to real progress in energy efficiency and renewable energy cost reductions, these changes are happening, albeit slowly.

A less viable, but often mentioned pathway would be geological engineering of the atmosphere on an enormous and unprecedented scale. This would involve dumping particulate matter or water vapor into the stratosphere to reflect the sun’s rays back upward, likely causing unforeseen, unintended consequences.

A third, and very promising, pathway would be to focus on increasing the rate of removal of man-made CO2. The issue is of such importance that former Secretary of Energy, Dr. Ernest Moniz, launched a study called “Clearing the Air” at Climate Week in NYC.

Trees, soil and oceans do soak up CO2, but do so at a rate that, while sufficient for naturally occurring CO2, cannot keep up with humanity’s insatiable appetite for creating CO2. For the past 150 years, the excess has been dumped into the atmosphere as waste and remains there for up to 200 years.

The first pathway, energy efficiency and resource conservation, works slowly. The second, geoengineering, poses risks not worth pursuing. The third, CO2 capture and utilization, offers the opportunity to manufacture high value products out of CO2 waste, creating a market value for carbon, which policy makers have been largely unable to do. It is possible to create opportunity out of past errors.

In the past, efforts to remove carbon from the atmosphere focused on storing carbon in underground caverns at enormous expense. Without a reliable carbon pricing mechanism, this became a money sink as much as a carbon sink. Recently, next-generation carbon removal processes are beginning to see the light of day, and creeping out from the caverns. Simply put, the intention of the prize is to reward technologies that capture excess CO2 to make high-value products that command a market price. Loosely framed, the technologies form three categories—those that create materials for the cement and concrete aggregate industries, those that create fuels, plastics and chemicals and those that create durable carbon products such as carbon fiber, carbon black and carbon nanotubes. In addition to the companies vying for the prize, there are now companies with similar technologies appearing at both the academic and commercialization level.

Read more at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/patsapinsley/2019/11/12/the-rise-of-carbontech-co2-finds-market-value/#71a3821c4524

#BBC News: Electric car future may depend on deep sea mining

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The concept has been talked about for decades, but until now it’s been thought too difficult to operate in the high-pressure, pitch-black conditions as much as 5km deep.

Now the technology is advancing to the point where dozens of government and private ventures are weighing up the potential for mines on the ocean floor.

The rocks of the seabed are far richer in valuable metals than those on land and there’s a growing clamour to get at them.Billions of potato-sized rocks known as “nodules” litter the abyssal plains of the Pacific and other oceans and many are brimming with cobalt, suddenly highly sought after as the boom in the production of batteries gathers pace.

At the moment, most of the world’s cobalt is mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo where for years there’ve been allegations of child labour, environmental damage and widespread corruption.

Read more at: https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-49759626

Legal Protocols, Lack of Funding Stall Geothermal Development in Indonesia

#Jakarta. Despite #Indonesia already having several plants and government plans to develop the #Geothermal industry, progress has been stalled by legal protocols and a lack of funding, the #WorldBank says.

Read more at: http://jakartaglobe.beritasatu.com/business/legal-protocols-lack-funding-stall-geothermal-development-indonesia/

3 New Technologies Shaping General Electric Company’s Future

GE-HA Turbine

Three new technologies
The three technologies in question are industrial gas turbines, aircraft engines, and locomotives, and investors hope orders expand as planned. A  brief look at them:

  • CFM International’s (a joint venture between General Electric and France’s Snecma) LEAP aircraft engine is rapidly expanding sales on the Airbus A320neo and Boeing 737 MAX.
  • The new HA gas turbine already has 16 units in backlog and could expand orders as the first turbines are delivered and put into service this year.
  • GE’s Evolution Series Tier 4 Locomotive is the first to meet federal Tier 4 regulations (a tighter set of emissions standards) as already in production in 2015.

Management recently estimated that LEAP would generate $200 billion in sales over its lifetime, while the HA turbine is forecast to bring in $100 billion and the Tier 4 locomotive about $40 billion. To put these figures into context, the total company backlog stood at $263 billion at the end of the first quarter. 3

Read more at: http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2015/07/02/general-electric-company.aspx

US Gov’t offers $20 million to projects aimed at recovering rare earths from coal

US Gov’t offers $20 million to projects aimed at recovering rare earths from coalThe US Department of Energy (DOE) has set aside about $20 million to fund projects aimed to quickly develop bench scale and pilot scale plans for recovering Rare Earth Elements (REE) from coal and coal by-products.

Last year, the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) begun investigating the economic feasibility of recovering the coveted elements — used as ingredients in magnets, batteries, catalytic converters and high-tech products—from coal.

Read more at: http://www.mining.com/us-govt-offers-20-million-to-projects-aimed-at-recovering-rare-earths-from-coal/

Canada picks engineering group to operate nuclear labs

AECL

Ottawa says it has completed a multi-year restructuring of Canada’s nuclear operations with the selection of a preferred bidder to operate a nuclear laboratory in eastern Ontario that is one of the world’s largest producers of medical isotopes.

Canadian National Energy Alliance was chosen Friday over three other engineering groups to manage and operate Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL), a subsidiary of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.

The consortium includes SNC-Lavalin, CH2M HILL Canada Ltd., Fluor Government Group Canada Inc., Energy Solutions Canada Group Ltd. and Rolls-Royce Civil Nuclear Canada Ltd.

Read more at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/canada-picks-engineering-group-to-operate-nuclear-labs/article25130863/

« Older Entries