The Anonymous Widower

Think Zinc: Another Metal That Can Transform The Energy Storage Sector

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Stockhouse.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Mines worldwide extract more than 11.9 million metric tons of zinc annually. There are zinc mines in over 50 countries around the world, and while the metal plays a key role in the steel industry, few people understand its transformative role in the energy storage sector. When most people think of the metals that power today’s energy storage systems, vanadium and lithium are at front of mind.

Wikipedia has an entry called Zinc Mining. This extract, sums up the availability of zinc from mining.

Global zinc mine production in 2019 was estimated to be 12.9 million tonnes. The largest producers were China (34%), Peru (11%), Australia (10%), United States (6.1%), India (5.5%), and Mexico (5.4%), with Australia having the largest reserves.

The world’s largest zinc mine is the Red Dog open-pit zinc-lead-silver mine in Alaska, with 4.2% of world production. Major zinc mine operators include Vedanta Resources, Glencore, BHP, Teck Resources, Sumitomo, Nexa Resources, Boliden AB, and China Minmetals.

The paragraph  is accompanied by a photograph from the Zinkgruvan mine in Sweden.

Closer to home, in 2009, Ireland mined 385,670 tonnes of zinc and was the tenth largest producer in the world. Tara Mine is at Navan in County Meath.

This Google Map shows its location to the West of Navan.

So if the Irish build more wind turbines, they have the zinc for their own zinc-air batteries.

The Stockhouse article is written by Ron MacDonald, who is President and CEO of Zinc8 Energy Solutions. He says this.

To give one example: Our company Zinc8 Energy Solutions has won a recent contract award and project collaboration with the New York Power Authority (NYPA) and private sector deployment agreement with Digital Energy supported by New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (Nyserda). We will deploy a 100kW/1.5MWh zinc-air system capable of storing energy for 15 hours.

Everybody, who worries about our future energy supplies should read the full article.

June 30, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage | , , , | Leave a comment

Thirsty High-Rollers … Mining’s Heavy Haulers Prime Candidates For Hydrogen Conversion

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on ecogeneration.

You understand, what the author means about mining’s heavy haulers, when you open the article.

This paragraph describes their carbon emissions.

One large scale dump truck, depending on the haul road it is using, will use between 100 and 140 litres of diesel per 100km. These vehicles operate all day every day except for maintenance down time. That’s between 260kg and 360kg of CO2 per 100km per truck.
Large open pit mines have tens of these vehicles operating continuously, so the numbers build up very quickly.

The author then goes on to say why, that converting these vehicles to green hydrogen makes a lot of sense.

The dump trucks are already diesel/electric, which means that the diesel generator can be replaced with a hydrogen fuel cell and a battery.

Mining giant; Anglo-American will be introducing a prototype hydrogen-powered dump truck at a platinum mine in South Africa this year.

These paragraphs describe the transmission.

The vehicle, which is called a fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) haul truck, will be powered by a hydrogen fuel cell module paired with Williams Advanced Engineering’s scalable high-power modular lithium-ion battery system. Williams provides batteries for FIA’s E-Formula motorsport.

This arrangement will replace the existing vehicle’s diesel engine, delivering in excess of 1MWh of energy storage. The battery system will be capable of recovering energy through regenerative braking as the haul truck travels downhill.

Note that the truck has more energy storage than is proposed for a four-car battery-electric train, like the Class 756 train, which has only 600 kWh.

The author finishes with this concluding paragraph.

With the major mining companies focusing on making significant strides in decarbonisation by 2030 expect there to be more announcements such as this focusing this “low hanging fruit” for the mining industry’s to materially reduce its carbon foot print.

Reading this, I can’t help feeling that replacement of a Class 66 locomotive with a zero-carbon hydrogen-battery-electric hybrid unit could be possible.

 

April 26, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

STRABAG Commences Expanded € 1 bn Contract for UK Mine

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Tunnel Business Magazine.

The article gives a good description of the scope of Sirius Minerals’s York Potash project and their massive mine under the Yorkshire Moors.

  • The tiunnel to bring the polyhalite to Wilton is nearly forty kilometres long.
  • Three tunnel boring machines will be used.
  • It is the largest polyhalite deposit in the world.
  • The conveyor in the tunnel will handle twenty million tonnes of product a year.

The Wikipedia entry for Sirius Minerals, says this about the project.

This will deliver a £2.3 billion annual contribution to the UK’s GDP, £2.5 billion of annual exports which represents a 7% decrease in the UK’s trade deficit and 2,500 direct and indirect production jobs as well as over 2,000 jobs during construction.

I doubt, there will be few projects in the UK in the next twenty years, which wil contribute so much!

 

July 26, 2019 Posted by | World | , , | 2 Comments

How To Go Mining In A Museum

This article on Active Investors is entitled Government Backing Lined Up For Cornish Lithium As It Partners With Wardell Armstrong And The Natural History Museum To Advance UK Battery Capabilities.

These are the first few paragraphs.

Cornish Lithium is now moving in some pretty august circles in its quest to put the UK on the lithium map.

Lithium is essential in the manufacture of batteries for electric vehicles.

“It’s been a huge voyage of discovery,” says Jeremy Wrathall.

“An absolutely amazing journey.”

In the past year the company he created, Cornish Lithium, has been transforming rapidly from a concept conjured up from the pages of old documents hidden in half-forgotten library vaults into a well-funded exploration vehicle with 10 geologists and some serious-minded partners providing additional funding and know-how.

The article goes on to give the full story of lithium in Cornwall and how by looking at old documents in the museum’s archives, Jeremy Wrathall may have found where to mine for the valuable mineral.

Now his company; Cornish Lithium, who are partnered with Wardell Armstrong, who describe themselves on their web site as.

An Engineering, Environmental and Mining consultancy with over 180 years of international service and experience.

And the Natural History Museum, who need no introduction,

They have been backed by £500,000 from the Government’s Faraday Battery Challenge fund.

It is a must-read tale, that I very much has a successful conclusion.

June 11, 2019 Posted by | World | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Whitehaven Deep Coal Mine Plan Moves Step Closer

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

This is the first three paragraphs.

The first new deep coal mine in the UK for decades has moved a step closer after councillors unanimously backed the plans.

The West Cumbria Mining Company wants to mine next to the site of the former colliery in Whitehaven that shut three decades ago.

The Woodhouse Colliery could create 500 jobs, but objectors have said mining will contribute to global warming.

I am not normally a friend or supporter of coal, but there might be a different agenda behind this mine.

The coal that will be mined at Woodchurch Mine, will not be burnt in a power station or steam engine, as it is being mined for a different purpose. It is high-quality metallurgical coal, Wikipedia says this about metallurgical coal.

Metallurgical coal is a grade of low-ash, low-sulfur and low-phosphorus coal that can be used to produce high grade coke. Coke is an essential fuel and reactant in the blast furnace process for primary steelmaking. The demand for metallurgical coal is highly coupled to the demand for steel. Primary steelmaking companies will often have a division that produces coal for coking, to ensure stable and low-cost supply

Currently, there is a shortage of this product and Europe import several million tonnes a year.

It also appears that the Cumbrian metallurgical coal is of a high quality and low in impurities.

In Wikipedia, there is an entry for the HIsarna ironmaking process.

This process is being developed by the Ultra-Low Carbon Dioxide Steelmaking (ULCOS) consortium, which includes Tata Steel and the Rio Tinto Group. Reduction in carbon-dioxide produced by the process compared to traditional steel-making are claimed to be as high as fifty percent.

This figure does not include carbon-capture to reduce the carbon-dioxide still further.

However, looking at descriptions of the process, I feel that applying carbon-capture to the HIsarna steelmaking process might be a lot easier, than with traditional steelmaking.

If you are producing high quality steel by a process like HIsarna, you want to make sure that you don’t add any impurities from the coal, so you have a premium product.

So is Cumbrian metallurgical coal important to the HIsarna process?

I obviously don’t know and it is not even certain that HIsarna will eventually become a mainstream way of producing high-quality steel.

But you can be assured that there are other companies trying to find the Holy Grail of producing high quality steel with low impurities and without creating masses of carbon-dioxide.

The company or organisation, who cracks this one will make a fortune ethically, as we’ll always need lots of high quality steel.

Conclusion

Mining coal in Cumbria may seem a retrograde step, but it could be central to cutting carbon-dioxide emissions in high-quality steel-making.

I’ll be watching this development with interest.

March 20, 2019 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

Cumbrian Coast’s Coal Comeback?

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in Issue 874 of Rail Magazine.

When I saw this article, I thought it was rather surprising, as coal is rather the arch-demon to environmentalists.

But this is not about coal for producing electricity, but metallurgical coal, that will be used in steelmaking.

West Cumbria Mining are proposing the mine and ofn their web site, the following is said.

West Cumbria Mining is investing in developing plans for the creation of a metallurgical coal mine off the coast near Whitehaven in West Cumbria to supply the UK and European steel-making coal market, which currently imports around 45 million tonnes per annum.

I would assume the 45 million tonnes refers to the total of the UK and European markets. S there is certainly a large market to supply, if the price is right.

Woodhouse Colliery

This extract describes how the mine will be created.

Woodhouse Colliery would be created using the access tunnels to old anhydrite workings at the former Sandwith Drift Mine, on the edge of Whitehaven. Until 2004, the site was occupied by the Marchon chemical works.

Studies have determined that sufficient coal reserves could be accessed to sustain mining operations for at least 50 years.

This picture was taken from their web site.

It doesn’t look to be a stereotypical coal mine.

Much of the coal would appear to be mined offshore.

Use Of The Railway

This extract talks about the use of the Cumbrian Coast Line, that passes through Whitehaven.

One of the things that actually makes the project realistic and viable is that we have access to existing infrastructure. There are lots of projects where actually the biggest capital cost is the infrastructure required. We have to remove everything by rail – one: because of the volume of material; but two: we wouldn’t be able to get planning if it was a road solution.

An agreement has been reached with Freightliner to transport the coal to Redcar. With the mine in full production, six trains per day would operate Monday-Friday.

More details about the rail transport are also given.

  • There would be a single-track siding for loading.
  • The siding would be connected to the mine by a 1.4 mile coal conveyor.
  • Everything is covered, so there no dust and gas.
  • The loading will be in an acoustically-closed building.
  • Trains will have 23 wagons.
  • Class 66 or Class 70 locomotives will be used.

It does appear that they are designing most things to a high standard.

These days, if planning permission with conditions is given, the conditions are usually adhered to, as sanctions are now easier to apply through the Courts.

I do have a few thoughts.

Route Between Whitehaven And Redcar

Trains would probably go via Carlisle, Newcastle and Middlesbrough

There would not be much electrification on the route, except for on the East Coast Main Line.

I would estimate that trains would take around three hours between the Woodhouse Colliery and Redcar

Rolling Stock

The article states that the wagons would be a dedicated fleet for the operation.

Surely, they could be designed for fast and quiet operation.

Locomotives

I feel that locomotives that meet the latest European regulations should be used. Class 66 locomotives do not, Class 68 locomotives do!

I also feel that in the next five years or so, more environmentally-friend;y and quieter locomotives will become available.

Improving The Cumbrian Coast Line

The article describes how the Cumbrian Coast Line will be improved if the mine gets Planning Permission.

Conclusion

If we are going to continue to make and use steel in the UK and Europe, it looks like this mine could create wealth in a part of the UK that needs it, without causing too many negatives.

It’s an interesting project.

 

 

 

March 11, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Woodsmith Potash Mine: Showcasing The Future Of Underground Technology

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Mining Technology.

These are some points from the article.

  • Yorkshire is the world’s only source of mined polyhalite.
  • £3.2billion has been invested.
  • A 32 km. tunnel is being dug to bring the plyhalite to Wilton on Teesside.
  • At 1.5 km deep, it will be the deepest mine in Europe.
  • Sirius are saying it will reduce the UK’s trade deficit by 7%

It is a fascinating read, which lays out the financing and engineering of one the biggest projects in the UK.

 

February 25, 2019 Posted by | Finance, World | , , | Leave a comment

Exciting Renewable Energy Project for Spennymoor

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the Durham University web site.

This is the first paragraph.

In January 2016, local residents Alan Gardner, Cllr Kevin Thompson and Lynn Gibson from the Durham Energy Institute at Durham University, met a team of academics to explore the advantages renewable energy and specifically the use of geothermal resources could bring to Spennymoor.

And this is the last.

Durham University is one of the world leaders in this research field. Spennymoor now has an opportunity to be at the forefront of that research. What the outcomes will eventually be is unknown at this stage but being able to explore the opportunity by the best in the business is encouraging.

Charlotte Adams mentioned in the article is the academic, who did the presentation I saw yesterday and talked about in Can Abandoned Mines Heat Our Future?.

Everybody, who lives in a mining area, should read this article and show it to everyone they know.

 

 

December 7, 2018 Posted by | World | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Can Abandoned Mines Heat Our Future?

The title of this post, is same as that of the title of a public lecture I attended at The Geological Society this afternoon.

This page on the Geological Society web site, gives a summary of the lecture and details of the speaker; Charlotte Adams of Durham University.

The Concept

The basic concept is simple.

  • Abandoned coal mines had their pumps turned off when they are closed and the worked areas have flooded with water, that is now at temperatures of around 12 to 20°C.
  • As fifteen billion tonnes of coal have been extracted from UK coalfields, that is a lot of space to flood. An estimate of around two billion cubic metres is given.
  • This means that the water holds somewhere between 27.9 and 46.5 GWH of energy in the form of heat.
  • Heat pumps would be used to upgrade the temperature of this water, to provide hot water at useful temperatures for space heating.

For those unfamiliar with the concept of a heat pump, Wikipedia gives a good explanation, of which this is the first paragraph.

A heat pump is a device that transfers heat energy from a source of heat to what is called a heat sink. Heat pumps move thermal energy in the opposite direction of spontaneous heat transfer, by absorbing heat from a cold space and releasing it to a warmer one. A heat pump uses a small amount of external power to accomplish the work of transferring energy from the heat source to the heat sink.

In connection with this project, the heat source is the warm water in the mines and the heat sink is the water that is circulated to heat the buildings.

Wikipedia goes on to say this.

In heating mode, heat pumps are three to four times more effective at heating than simple electrical resistance heaters using the same amount of electricity. However, the typical cost of installing a heat pump is also higher than that of a resistance heater.

Wikipedia also has a section, which descries the use of heat pumps in district heating.

It should also be noted, that as with lots of technology, heat pumps are much improved, from the one I installed in a swimming pool in the 1980s.

Gas Is Replaced By Renewable Energy

The electricity to drive the heat pumps could be derived from renewable sources such as hydroelectric, solar, wave or wind.

Effectively, the system is using intermittent sources of electricity to create a constant source of heat suitable for space heating.

Would The Mines Run Out Of Heat Or Water?

As I understand it, the water in the mine will continue to be heated by the heat in the mines. The father of a friend, who came with me to the lecture was a coal miner and my friend confirmed it was hot in a coal mine.

The water will of course continue to flood the mine and the water pumped to the surface will probably be returned.

So the system will continue to supply heat for space heating.

How Long Will The System Supply Heat?

The system has the following characteristics.

  • It is electro-mechanical.
  • It is powered by electricity.
  • Water is the heat transfer medium.
  • Additives like anti-freeze will probably be applied to the water used for heat transfer.

There is no reason the system can’t be designed, so that it supplies heat for many years with regular maintenance and updating.

How Does The System Compare To Bunhill 2 Energy Centre?

In Bunhill 2 Energy Centre, I described Islington’s Bunhill 2 Energy Centre which uses heat generated in the Northern Line of the London Underground to provide district heating.

I am fairly sure that a lot of similar technology will be used in both applications.

This page on Wikipedia is entitled London Underground Cooling.

There is a section, which is entitled Source Of The Heat, where this is said.

The heat in the tunnels is largely generated by the trains, with a small amount coming from station equipment and passengers. Around 79% is absorbed by the tunnels walls, 10% is removed by ventilation and the other 11% remains in the tunnels.

Temperatures on the Underground have slowly increased as the clay around the tunnels has warmed up; in the early days of the Underground it was advertised as a place to keep cool on hot days. However, over time the temperature has slowly risen as the heat sink formed by the clay has filled up. When the tunnels were built the clay temperature was around 14ºC; this has now risen to 19–26ºC and air temperatures in the tunnels now reach as high as 30ºC.

So one big difference is that the Underground is warmer than the mine and this should make it a better heat source.

I feel that engineers on both projects will benefit from the ideas and experience of the others.

Would Infrastructure Funds Back This Technology?

In the UK, there are several infrastructure funds set up by companies like Aberdeen Standard, Aviva, Gresham House and L & G.

In World’s Largest Wind Farm Attracts Huge Backing From Insurance Giant, I explained why Aviva had invested nearly a billion pounds in wind farms to support pensioners and holders of their insurance policies.

Comparing the risk of using abandoned mines to heat buildings and that of offshore wind turbines generating electricity, my engineering knowledge would assign a greater risk to the turbines, providing both were built to the highest possible standards.

It’s just the onshore and offshore locations and the vagaries of the weather!

I think it is true to say, that infrastructure funds will back anything, where there is an acceptable long-term income to be made, commensurate with the costs and risk involved.

But then Government or any public or private company or organisation should not pay over the odds for the energy delivered.

Conclusion

Charlotte Adams in her lecture, asked if abandoned mines can heat our future.

The answer could well be yes, but there are other sources of heat like the London Underground, that can also be used.

 

 

 

 

December 7, 2018 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

I Am Totally Against Brexit, But Read This!

York Potash are developing a potash mine in you’ve guessed it! – Yorkshire.

This article from the Gazette Live is entitled Work on York Potash mine which could employ 1,000 due to start in September.

This can’t be bad news, as every new job on Teesside is needed. This is also said.

Costs for the project “have moved in our favour”, Mr Fraser told the newspaper. “We are a dollar asset but a big part of the costs will be [paid in] sterling [for] labour… With lower sterling, we will be in a stronger position.”

In the end, I suspect that whether or not we leave Europe, the result will not be a disaster for the country.

The dollar will continue to call the shots, as it moves towards being the universal world currency.

July 7, 2016 Posted by | Business, World | , , | 2 Comments