Antimony metal battery to be used at desert data centre in Nevada

Antimony metal battery to be used at desert data centre in Nevada

From Energy Storage News– ‘Liquid metal’ antimony based battery technology developed as a potential low-cost competitor for lithium-ion looks set to be used at a data centre under development near Reno, Nevada.

An agreement has been made to deploy energy storage systems using the novel chemistry batteries between manufacturer Ambri and TerraScale, a developer of sustainable infrastructure solutions for the energy and digital technology sectors.

Co-founded by MIT materials chemistry professor Donald Sadoway and part-funded to get off the ground by Bill Gates, Ambri has designed a battery that uses a liquid calcium alloy anode, molten salt electrolyte and a cathode made of solid particles of antimony. The company claims this enables a low number of steps in the cell assembly process while the materials are low-cost. Ambri also integrates the batteries into a containerised energy storage system solution.

TerraScale meanwhile is developing a project called Energos Reno. A 3,700 acre development near the city of Fernley in the Reno-Sparks metropolitan area, the site will include a microgrid with more than 500MW of renewable energy capacity powering a data centre that TerraScale anticipates will be used by government and commercial clients.

Renewable resources that Energos Reno can call on will be solar and geothermal: there is already 10MW of solar generation built at the site, which TerraScale intends to bring up to 500MW and 23MW of active geothermal power with a rated capacity of 48MW. While the first phase of the project is the buildout of roadways and utilities to enable the sustainable data centre to be sited there, TerraScale said in a press release that it hopes the data centre and its microgrid will be built and completed within 10 years.

“Our data centre technology partners are looking forward to deploying Ambri’s antimony technology to enable high-volume, reliable, and resilient energy storage with potentially the lowest levelised cost of storage in the industry,” TerraScale CEO Danny Hayes said.

“The collaboration is underway and includes delivery of 250MWh of Ambri systems to TerraScale’s first project in Reno, Nevada starting in 2021. The Ambri systems are particularly well suited for the project’s high-desert operations, for the shifting of its large amounts of renewable solar load, and for its grid-system peak shaving capability,” Ambri chief commercial officer Adam Briggs said.

In racing to commercialise its novel battery technology, Ambri is among a handful of non-flow battery players that are beginning to realise a scale-up in deployments as rivals to lithium. These include Eos Energy Storage, which has recently brokered a couple of gigawatts in contracts with US developers for its zinc aqueous battery and 24M which has recently signed a deal for a Norwegian startup to manufacture its semi-solid electrode lithium batteries under license. Japanese equipment maker Kyocera has also signed up to use 24M’s potentially disruptive lithium battery technology in residential energy storage systems in the Japanese market.

24M was also started up by an MIT professor, Yet-Ming Chiang, who in turn has also involved been involved with Form Energy, which has recently emerged from stealth mode touting the potential of its aqueous air battery, claiming that it can store up to 150 hours of energy. Form Energy has also been backed by tech magnate Bill Gates, via the former Microsoft chief’s Breakthrough Energy Ventures fund.

Ambri meanwhile had been selected by the Massachusetts-headquartered energy storage system integrator arm of NEC as a potential technology solution for projects that required more than four hours’ duration of storage, with NEC Energy Solutions announcing a minimum purchase order of 200MWh of cells from Ambri in 2019. However despite a strong early leader position, NEC exited the energy storage industry earlier this year.

Ambri’s Donald Sadoway has said in the past few days via Twitterthat the company’s batteries can operate in the desert “without need for air conditioning or fire suppression,” claimed that there was “no question that liquid metal battery can undercut lithium-ion,” and that the technology “offers resistance to capacity fade and immunity to thermal runaway while constructed of ethically sourced materials. All at the lowest price point”.

Article Retrieved from: Energy Storage News

For More Information on Antimony Products 

SLG offers a variety of antimony products that serve a variety of needs. For more information on our antimony products please visit our Flame Retardants page, or you can always give us a call here at our office by visiting our Contact Us page.

ANTIMONY: IT’S CRITICAL

ANTIMONY: IT’S CRITICAL

PUBLISHED MARCH 2, 2021

Perpetua Resources– Critical minerals like Antimony get a lot of attention. But why?

Minerals are a key part of our everyday lives. Without them we wouldn’t have iPhones, safe bridges to drive on, engines for our cars or a well-prepared military to keep us safe. However, the U.S. depends on foreign countries for half of the key minerals we use and our reliance on foreign nations for mineral resources has doubled in the last twenty years. This isn’t because the minerals do not exist in our country but because we aren’t currently tapping into some of the resources available to us.  

In 2017, the Department of the Interior declared 35 minerals vital to U.S. interests based on our economic and national security needs. The list includes minerals that are key components of electronics, military equipment and weapons, transportation devices, energy generation and many other industries that help power and protect our great nation. As the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated, our dependence on foreign nations to access these minerals and other important technologies leaves our country vulnerable.  

As recognized by multiple Presidential administrations and across political parties, our country’s economic growth, safety and way of life is dependent on our ability to access the minerals and metals that build satellites, missile defense systems, roads and bridges, computers, batteries and other technology. Yet, our dependance on other countries for materials and goods is creating vulnerability.   

The critical mineral antimony is one of the metals Perpetua Resources will produce if the Stibnite Gold Project moves forward, is included on the list of 35 Critical Minerals because it is essential to the energy, technology, and defense industries. Right now, the U.S. gets most of this mineral from China and Russia – which controls more than 80 percent of the world’s antimony production. Recent headlines regarding China’s desire to limit exports of rare earth minerals as well as the associated technology demonstrates that our dependency on China for critical minerals leaves the U.S. vulnerable.  Today, there is not an active antimony mine in America. The Stibnite Gold Project would be the only domestic source of mined antimony and the Project can help us take back control over one key part of our mineral future. 

WHY ANTIMONY? 

Our current way of life is dependent upon antimony. From wind and hydro turbines to semiconductors and cellphones, Antimony is a key component of the technology that powers our nation, that keeps us entertained and, on the move, as well as the technology that keeps our country safe.  

Designated as one of the 35 critical minerals antimony is a very important mineral. It strengthens alloys and makes them resistant to corrosion and is a key ingredient in flame retardants. These properties make it a highly valuable mineral for our military and energy sectors, as well as preventing our homes and belongings from being fire hazards. In fact, Antimony has always been an important mineral for national defense. During World War II, young men could complete their military service up at Stibnite because antimony was critical to winning the war.  

Antimony powers our nation: Solar panels, wind turbines, generators, motors, batteries, nuclear reactors and other energy sources that our nation depends upon contain antimony.  

Antimony keeps us entertained and on the go: Smartphones, computers, semi-conductors, cars and other high-tech devices and machines depend on antimony to operate efficiently.  

Antimony keeps our nation safe: Communication systems, night vision goggles, ammunition, tanks, infrared sensors, submarines, warships, camouflage, flame retardants and many other military technologies are dependent upon antimony to operate effectively. 

ANTIMONY FOR THE FUTURE GREEN GRID 

We are also excited about the future of antimony and its use in next generation technology; technology that will allow us to achieve a more sustainable and efficient future. Recent research has demonstrated antimony’s applicability in molten-salt batteries, solid-state batteries, semi-conductors, and even self-healing solar panels.  

Researchers at MIT have developed an antimony based liquid battery that will allow for the large-scale storage of renewable energy. The technology is currently being used at a Nevada data center and is in development as a tool for sustainable infrastructure development. This development will help renewable energy sources compete with traditional power plants and further increase the need for a domestic source of antimony.  

Researchers from Texas, Germany, and India have also created various solid-state batteries that use Magnesium-Antimony and Silver-Antimony-Telluride compounds to capture and convert what is known as waste heat into electricity. Waste heat refers to the excess energy generated by power plants and other machines or processes that is not converted into usable energy and is typically released as heat. This new development will help reduce the amount of wasted energy and further support a more sustainable future. 

Some experts have even theorized that antimony will replace silicon as the key semi-conductor for microchips. This is so, because 2D antimony is incredibly thin but also maintains a high charge mobility. Meaning, that the speed at which the charge moves through the antimony is very high. In fact, Antimony’s charge mobility is higher than that of silicon and thus will allow for microchips and next generation processors to become ever smaller.  

Today, antimony plays a role in solar panels for its transparent, infrared insulating and electrical conduction properties.  New research from the University of York has also demonstrated how antimony selenide may become a key component in solar panels. This compound is known as a solar absorbing material which means it can be used to turn light into electricity. What is unique about this semi-conducting compound is that it can self-heal. Keith Mckenna who helped discover this characteristic, compared antimony-selenide’s self-healing capability to a salamander’s ability to regenerate severed limbs. This self-healing characteristic is incredibly unusual and will likely allow the antimony-selenide compound to find widespread application in electronics, solar panels and other photovoltaics, as well as lighting and display systems.  

Antimony’s future uses are ever evolving, and their implications for our future are exciting. What is the most notable, is that the critical mineral antimony will play a key role in achieving a more sustainable future powered by renewable energy and that the lack of a domestic supply of antimony threatens both our economic and national securities.  

2021 UPDATE ON ANTIMONY: ANTIMONY REMAINS CRITICAL 

President Joe Biden issued an Executive Order on February 24, 2021 to further study our reliance on foreign nations and the need for a more resilient supply chain. We are excited by the news because, like the President, we know access to critical minerals is key to a secure and sustainable future for all of us. The Administration will evaluate supply chain risks in four specific areas – semiconductor manufacturing, high-capacity batteries, critical minerals, and pharmaceuticals.  

We fully anticipate this review will place a national focus on critical minerals, and antimony is a key mineral used in essential technology like semiconductors and large-scale battery storage. Currently, we are in the process of permitting America’s only mined source of this mineral. 

The Stibnite Gold Project could supply approximately 30 percent of the American demand for antimony in the first six years of production. Today, we are reliant on China and Russia to meet our antimony demands.  

 

Article Retrieved from: Perpetua Resources

For More Information on Antimony Products 

SLG offers a variety of antimony products that serve a variety of needs. For more information on our antimony products please visit our Flame Retardants page, or you can always give us a call here at our office by visiting our Contact Us page.

Antimony: The Most Important Mineral You Never Heard Of

Antimony: The Most Important Mineral You Never Heard Of

Forbes- Many readers have likely never heard of antimony, but it is important to their lives nevertheless. In fact, were it not for antimony produced here in the United States, the outcome of World War II might have turned out differently.

No, really, it could have. Antimony is a strategic critical mineral that is used in all manner of military applications, including the manufacture of armor piercing bullets, night vision goggles, infrared sensors, precision optics, laser sighting, explosive formulations, hardened lead for bullets and shrapnel, ammunition primers, tracer ammunition, nuclear weapons and production, tritium production, flares, military clothing, and communication equipment. It is the key element in the creation of tungsten steel and the hardening of lead bullets, two of its most crucial applications during WWII.

Prior to the buildup to the War, the United States was almost entirely dependent on China for its supply of antimony. When that supply was cut off by Japan, America had to find another source of this key mineral. Fortunately for the U.S. at that time, a gold mine in central Idaho called the Stibnite mine was able to step up production of the antimony that is an element in the mine’s ore and helped fill the void.

Stibnite, also known as antimonite, mineral texture

The Stibnite mine ended up producing fully 90% of America’s demand for antimony for the duration of the War and was key to producing 40% of the tungsten steel needed for the military effort. Following the War, output from the Stibnite mine gradually declined, and its operations were shut down entirely in 1997.

Today, the U.S. finds itself once again wholly reliant on other countries for its antimony needs, most heavily China and to a lesser extent, Russia. As Christopher Ecclestone, Mining Strategist at London-based Hallgarten & Company, said during a webinar this week, as recently as a few years ago, China produced as much as 80% of the world’s supply of antimony. But years of over-production of its key mines, along with lingering low commodity prices have reduced China’s share of global production to 53%.

However, several large producing nations ship their supplies to China for processing, meaning that the communist empire still processes 80% of global supply, and thus commands its ultimate supply chain. Ecclestone said he believes Chinese supply is in rapid decline, and that the Chinese government is currently rationing its own production. This helps to explain a recent spike in the price for the metal, which has doubled over the last 6 months.

Worse, Ecclestone believes that global demand for antimony in the coming years “cannot be met from current supplies.” If true, this will impact all of us in a variety of ways, because antimony is a crucial element in far more than just military applications.

For example, consider its usage in the high-tech sector, where it is a key ingredient in semi-conductors, circuit boards, electric switches, fluorescent lighting, high quality clear glass and lithium-ion batteries. No antimony, no iPhones. No hi-definition TVs. No modern kitchen appliances, all of which make use of digital circuitry. Oh, and that car you’re thinking about buying? Sorry.

Now, consider this: There can be no “energy transition” without adequate supplies of antimony. That thick, heavy glass used in solar panels? It’s made with antimony. Those 300 to 700 foot-tall windmills that sporadically produce electricity? Made with antimony. Antimony is a key element in the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries, as mentioned above, but even more crucial is the fact that it is integral to the development of the next-generation liquid metal batteries that, as Ecclestone pointed out during the webinar, hold the key to truly scalable energy storage for wind and solar power.

Although Tesla CEO Elon Musk touts his company’s lithium-ion technology as that key, Ecclestone disagrees, mainly because lithium-ion batteries rapidly lose their charge, especially in unusually cold or hot temperatures. Liquid metal batteries are able to hold the charge put into them over much longer periods of time and are far less impacted by severe temperatures. Thus, the development of this technology is key to the “energy transition” ever really taking place, and that cannot happen without a reliable and ample supply of antimony. As tensions between the U.S. and China continue rising, so do concerns about the ultimate source of that supply.

Obviously, the U.S. needs to develop a domestic supply of this critical mineral, but where will it come from? Ironically, the only potential domestic source of the metal currently being considered for development happens to be the very same Stibnite mine that served such a vital role during World War II.

There remains much gold to be mined at the Stibnite site, and that means a great deal of antimony to be mined along with it. Perpetua Resources, a company created a decade ago to restart production at Stibnite, is optimistic it can recover this critical resource over a period of about 12 years, and ultimately clean up and restore the area it occupies to pristine condition.

The company has spent the last decade in the planning phase of the project, and is currently seeking approvals from the U.S. Forest Service under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Assuming the NEPA effort meets with success, Perpetua will spend up to a year seeking as many as 50 separate required permits, licenses, approvals and authorizations from federal, state and local regulatory bodies before work can finally begin on the project itself. If all goes as currently planned, the company tells me it anticipates first production of gold and antimony from the mine in the 2025-2026 time frame.

Notably, this project is considered one of the largest resources of antimony outside of the control of China, Russia and their allies. Perpetua anticipates a 12-year production time frame related to the currently known resource present at the mine site, and believes it will be able to produce, on average, about 35% of current U.S. antimony usage over the first six years of production. As you can see from the chart below, that does not include anticipated increased domestic antimony demand from the development of next-generation battery technology.

These percentages could increase should Perpetua discover additional reserves of gold and antimony as it goes through the mining process, a prospect the company considers to be entirely likely.

In 1977, then-President Jimmy Carter declared the fact that the United States was 33% dependent on imports of foreign oil to meet its needs to be a national emergency. In light of that, it seems almost unbelievable that this country has allowed itself to become almost 100% dependent on imports of a metal integral to so many applications as antimony. Of course, the U.S. is also in a similar situation related to better-known critical minerals like lithium and cobalt, which are also key to the production of solar panels, wind turbines and lithium-ion batteries.

Given all the ongoing hype about renewable energy, electric vehicles and the seeming urgency around moving to them in the coming few decades, this seems a very odd way to manage such a massive envisioned “energy transition.” If that goal is to ever truly become reality in the U.S., the country must find a way to secure adequate supplies of these minerals by exploiting its own domestic reserves of them. Where antimony is concerned, Perpetua Resources at least has a plan to make a good start.

Article Retrieved from: Forbes

For More Information on Antimony Products 

SLG offers a variety of antimony products that serve a variety of needs. For more information on our antimony products please visit our Flame Retardants page, or you can always give us a call here at our office by visiting our Contact Us page.