Sunday, 25 August 2019

Just how energy efficient are wind turbines?

Wind farms are being erected all over the world and a recent study from the University of Sussex and Aarhus University has shown that Europe has the capacity to produce more than 100 times the amount of energy it currently produces through onshore wind farms.
In an analysis of all suitable sites for onshore wind farms, the new study reveals that Europe has the potential to supply enough energy for the whole world until 2050. Peter Enevoldsen, assistant professor in the Center for Energy Technologies at Aarhus University, Denmark said “...but even without accounting for developments in wind turbine technology in the upcoming decades, onshore wind power is the cheapest mature source of renewable energy, and utilizing the different wind regions in Europe is the key to meet the demand for a 100% renewable and fully decarbonized energy system.”
The study estimates that more than 11 million additional wind turbines could be theoretically installed over almost 5 million square kilometres of suitable terrain generating 497 EJ of power which would adequately meet the expected global energy demand in 2050 of 430 EJ.
Maybe the land is available, but the materials needed to construct all these wind turbines by 2050 would certainly not be, as I highlighted in the posting Is Zero Carbon by 2050 attainable? Wind power gives many the impression of getting something for nothing, but of course that is not the case. Construction of a wind turbine requires a great deal of raw material and energy and there is also an environmental factor, not least involving the construction of the concrete foundation, as the cement industry is one of the world's greatest emitters of CO2.
Which leads me to my eponymous question- just how energy efficient are wind turbines?  The figure below, from the World Bank, shows how much raw material is needed to manufacture just one 3 MW turbine.
I would like to know if anyone has performed a complete life-cycle energy analysis on a wind turbine of this size? How much energy is used from initial mining to final decommissioning and what is the estimate of net energy produced during the life of a turbine? I think the results might be surprising, as mining, processing and extraction of rare earth elements alone are known to be particularly energy intensive.
If anyone has information on such a LCA please let me know. If little has been done, then wouldn't this be a great student project?
Twitter @barrywills

Thursday, 22 August 2019

Recent Advances in Hydro- and Biohydrometallurgy

This new book is a reprint of articles from the Special Issue published online in the open access journal Minerals from 2018 to 2019.  It is edited by Kostas A. Komnitsas, Technical University of Crete,  Greece.
In his preface, the editor says that "the roots of hydrometallurgy can be traced back to the era of alchemists, while modern hydrometallurgy dates back to 1887, when two important processes were invented, namely the cyanidation process for the treatment of gold ores and the Bayer process for the treatment of bauxites and the production of alumina".
"On the other hand", he states, "there is evidence that bioleaching was used in the Rio Tinto area in Spain prior to Roman occupation for the recovery of copper, as well as in China some 2000 years ago. Modern commercial biohydrometallurgical applications for the processing of ores commenced in the 1950s, focusing on the bioleaching of copper. Since then, biohydrometallurgy has been used for the treatment of various primary and secondary raw materials and the recovery of several metals, including gold, copper, and rare-earth elements. It must be underlined that the critical role of bio- and hydrometallurgy in achieving sustainable development in various industrial sectors was identified more than 30 years ago".
More information on the book can be found on the web-site, which includes a link to a pdf file containing all the papers published in the book. We look forward to updates on the work reported at Biomining '20 next year in Falmouth. Minerals is a media partner for Flotation '19 in Cape Town.

Sunday, 18 August 2019

New book on Flotation Optimisation will be profiled at Flotation '19

The 2nd edition of the AusIMM's Flotation Plant Optimisation has just been published, and is edited by Magotteaux's Dr. Chris Greet, a regular contributor not only to MEI's flotation conferences, but also the comminution series.
Chris Greet (right) at Flotation '13
This revised and updated second edition builds on the content of the first edition (published in 2010) and includes some completely new content. The 14 well-known authors who have contributed to the 13 chapters include recent keynote speakers at MEI Conferences, Bill Johnson (Flotation '17), Alan Butcher (Process Mineralogy '18), Tim Napier-Munn (Comminution '14 and Physical Separation '17), Rob Morrison (Physical Separation '15) and Joe Pease (Comminution '16).
The book is available to purchase from the AusIMM, and we are pleased to announce that Flotation '19 sponsor Magotteaux will be providing two copies of the book at the conference, signed by Chris Greet, as prizes for the two best student poster presentations, in the Fundamentals and Applications Symposia.

The book will be officially launched at next month's MetPlant 2019 in Perth. Process IQ is one of the sponsors of MetPlant, and the company will be exhibiting at Flotation '19.  On the Friday morning following the conference, they have arranged a technical seminar to discuss optimising minerals processing performance utilising real-time measurement and modelling and advanced process control. Full details can be found on this pdf.

Twitter @barrywills

Friday, 16 August 2019

Good news at the August Cornish Mining Sundowner

Falmouth has been jam-packed with visitors this week for the annual Festival Week. With its origins in a local sailing regatta dating back at least as far 1837, the Week has evolved into not only a major sailing competition in the south west but also an opportunity for tourists and locals to enjoy the many daytime and evening attractions in the town. Numbers were swelled even more last night with a great turnout for the August Mining Sundowner at the Chain Locker.
Veteran mineral processors Nick Wilshaw, BW, Mike Hallewell and Tony Clarke
and veteran mining engineers Nick Clarke, Tony Batchelor, Roger Davey and Phil Oliver
Many of the regulars are members of the Cornwall Mining Alliance (CMA). Cornwall is home to a unique concentration of innovative businesses, organisations and experienced professionals providing services to all aspects of mining and related industries in the UK and around the world. The CMA connects these experts so MEI is very pleased to announce a partnership with CMA, which becomes an Industry Associate for MEI's Falmouth-based conferences, starting with next year's Sustainable Minerals '20 and Biomining '20, which will be held just across the inner harbour from the Chain Locker, at the National Maritime Museum.
Camborne School of Mines' Prof. Frances Wall had good news of the IMP@CT (mining and energy) team at the University of Exeter, which is a finalist for a Europe-wide competition for women-led innovation. The IMP@CT team is led by geologist Kathryn Moore, Senior Lecturer in Critical and Green Technology Metals. Together the team seeks to develop sustainable whole systems mining solutions for production of an increasing diversity of technology metals. It is great to have a minerals processing project featured, and even better that it is a CSM-led project! The winner will be decided by public vote via the website link, which also gives full details of the project, which we hope will be featured next year at Sustainable Minerals '20 in Falmouth.
Frances Wall and Kathryn Moore, with CSM's Pat Foster
It was good to catch up with Ben Williamson again. Ben is an Associate Professor in Applied Mineralogy at CSM and has just written a fine article on the action which is needed to raise the profile of mining education. He feels, as I do, that far more needs to be done by the government, industry and education sector to highlight the vital role of mining in modern society, the excellent career opportunities, the considerable investments made by mining companies to be more environmentally and ethically responsible, and the importance of the mining sector to the UK economy.
Ben Williamson (centre) with CSM Association manager Chris Kitchen and CMA's Jean Taylor
As he stresses in his article, mining makes an enormous contribution to the UK economy and will continue to do so long into the future.  From a career perspective, it is reassuring, given current university tuition fees, that mining engineering graduates have exciting and well-paid employment opportunities world-wide. Despite these positives, the University of Exeter’s CSM is now the UK’s only provider of Mining Engineering degrees at undergraduate level at a time when the mining industry is becoming increasingly technology-driven and reliant on a highly-skilled workforce.
Ben is keen to have this article published in a major newspaper education supplement, but so far has had no response. Unfortunately he is probably experiencing the classic freelance writer's Catch-22 situation, where a publisher will only accept articles from well established writers. So if anyone has any contacts in the publication network who might be able to help, please let us know.
It was a great sundowner last night and as always we welcome anyone who is in the area to call in for a chat. The next sundowner will be at the Chain Locker again on September 19th, beginning at the usual time of 5.30pm.
Twitter @barrywills

Monday, 12 August 2019

Is the peer-review system creaking?

In recent years the pressure on academics and researchers to publish in reputable journals has increased immensely. This not only puts pressure on prospective authors of manuscripts, but also on invited reviewers of these manuscripts, who in most cases are also researchers under the same pressure.
The net effect is a slowing down of the essential peer-review process, a symbiotic collaboration between all researchers in a scientific field (Peer-review. Is it outdated? 21 March 2011).
This has been a concern to myself and the editors of Minerals Engineering for some time, as the often long process of finding suitable reviewers for a manuscript becomes a source of frustration for the authors.
So I very much appreciate this timely submission from Joshua Bayliss, Elsevier’s Executive Publishing Manager for Minerals Engineering:
Minerals Engineering has experienced a great deal of growth in the last 2 years, owing to an influx in submissions. This is a magnificent achievement and we thank all authors who have sent their hard work to us for consideration, and we very much welcome your manuscript if it falls into the Aims & Scope.
Manuscripts submitted to Minerals Engineering
Such growth has been instrumental in allowing us to maintain a premier position in the rankings, translating in us publishing some of the best content in the field (see the top-cited articles) and the coveted  Impact Factor of 3.315.
Nonetheless, these rises in submission numbers do not come without their challenges. Minerals Engineering is proud to consistently uphold a strict and rigorous peer review policy. This means that each and every manuscript - once determined to be in scope and of sufficient written quality - is reviewed by at least two external peer reviewers.
The invitation to review is, of course, always optional. We are mindful of the demands on our reviewers’ time and thus our invitations are very much dependent on the good-will and time of the reviewers being invited who retain the option to decline to do the review for us.
For Minerals Engineering, reviewers remain an important part of the journal’s lifecycle and sustainability. Despite this fact, the number of reviewers agreeing to review for the journal appears to be dwindling: in 2017 the rate of acceptance stood at 75% but has unfortunately dropped to just 60% in 2018, a figure which appears to be continuing for 2019 so far. This is a worrying situation and puts undue strain on a handful of individuals who are thus performing more reviews for us (you know who you are and we thank you very much for your services to the journal as we are sure the authors do!
Minerals Engineering, as with any academic journal, relies heavily on its reviewers to be able to help authors achieve their potential and write the best papers that they can – all authors should expect to have their work reviewed by key figures in the field and not just the editor. Reviewers’ comments are a vital source of both criticism and appraisal for the hard work done and are an essential opportunity for improvement before final publication of results, thus forming an integral part of academia and the ‘cornerstone of scholarly publishing’ (Hames, 2012, p.20).
In summary, peer review is a truly symbiotic ecosystem where authors, editors and reviewers all work in unison with each other by sharing and delivering tips and tricks on how to write something that truly matters for the community. We request, therefore, that all reviewers and editors please carefully consider their next invitation to review, taking into account their most vital role in the academic ecosystem.
If you have any questions or suggestion for the journal, please do not hesitate to reach out.
Hames, I (2012), ‘Peer Review in a Rapidly Evolving Publishing Landscape’, in Campbell, E., (eds.) Academic and Professional Publishing, Oxford: Chandos Publishing, pp.15-52
Joshua Bayliss, Publisher

Sunday, 11 August 2019

Electric vehicles are not that new

As we enter the 4th Industrial Revolution and the gradual replacement of the internal combustion engine by electric vehicles, I received, via a fellow Northerner on Twitter, this nostalgic photo of the electric buses, 'trolleybuses', which operated between my home town of Ashton-u-Lyne and Manchester. Powered by overhead electric cables rather than batteries they were quiet and pollution free but were replaced in December 1966 by the more efficient diesel engines, which seems a little ironic now.
Manchester trolleybuses
I remember them well, as Barbara's dad was a bus-conductor, and collected tickets on one of the local bus routes. One of his regular passengers was a shabbily dressed old man, his raincoat tied with string, who he befriended and occasionally turned a blind eye to collecting his fare. The old man confided that he was a bit of an artist, and offered him one of his paintings, which he politely declined, as he did not wish to take anything in return for his kindness.  Later it was discovered that the old man was one of Manchester’s most famous sons, the artist L.S. Lowry, who died in 1976. His paintings of scenes of life in the industrial districts of northern England during the early 20th century now sell for fortunes, a large collection of his 'Matchstick Men' now on permanent public display in a purpose built Manchester art gallery appropriately named, The Lowry.
Ah well!