Manufacturing of metals with Renewable Energy as a way

    Manufacturing of metals with Renewable Energy as a way

    Element 25 studies the use of renewable energy solutions, such as wind and solar, to drive electrodeposition processes in the production of electrolytic manganese metal. Project proponents say it could pave the way for new opportunities for integrating renewable energy into metals processing and potentially open export markets.

    Manufacturing of Metals with Renewable Energy

    The project has won the backing of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), which has allocated $490,000 in funding. 'The resource processing sector is an area where there is currently low penetration of renewable energy,' said ARENA CEO Darren Miller. 'The use of renewable energy could be expanded to other types of metals processing, increasing opportunities for Australia to export renewable energy or emissions-free resources to the world.'

    Noting that Australia is currently the third largest producer of manganese ore, Miller explained that if the project shows that renewable energy is a viable option, it could even create a new industry in Australia. Mineral processing, using low-cost renewable energy sources could add value to local resources, rather than shipping raw materials abroad, with processing powered by fossil fuels.

    Electrografting is a upgrading process in which an electrical current is passed through a metal salt solution causing the metal to be deposited in an electroplating process. Traditionally it is based on grid-connected power supplies.

    In the ARENA-supported project, Element 25 will investigate the impact on the electrodeposition process that uses high levels of variable power supply from wind and solar energy, requiring the process to respond dynamically to changes in energy production. The study will form part of the company's Butcherbird development, Australia's largest onshore manganese resource, located 130 km south of Newman, Western Australia. Pre-feasibility studies for the project are underway and are scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.

    'Making metals with renewable energy makes sense. If successful, this work will have a significant impact on our project economics, but will also pave the way for other Australian companies to integrate renewable energy into their resource projects to add value here in Australia,' Element CEO said 25, Justin Brown.

    Since electrical extraction of metals (including manganese, but also copper, zinc and others) requires a significant energy input, renewably generated energy makes economic sense in terms of project economics. The work completed to date under the prefeasibility study has shown that, while the availability of natural gas at Butcherbird provides a strong base case, the best economics in relation to power generation is achieved through a combination of wind energy , solar and gas.

    ARENA's funding will contribute 50% of the total $980.000 budget to demonstrate the feasibility of intermittent dynamic electrogeneration (IDE), which allows manganese metal to be produced under dynamic conditions, the company said in a statement. Base case analysis without IDE indicates that up to 60% renewable penetration is possible, but IDE is expected to show that up to 90% renewable penetration is possible, with significant improvement in economics .

    The project will include laboratory testing, field studies to collect solar and wind resources, and a pilot study to examine how manganese production will respond to actual solar and wind energy data collected in a full-scale test. Test work will be carried out at Murdoch University's Extractive Metallurgy Division (Faculty of Science, Health, Engineering and Education).

    Element 25 has engaged advisory consultants Advisian to identify a mix of renewable energy sources as the low-cost energy solution for the project, and assist with approval of ARENA funding.

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