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Schlumberger and Panasonic have announced that they will collaborate on a new battery-grade-lithium production process that they say will pave the way for improved lithium production to help meet the expected surge in demand from the fast-growing global electric vehicle (EV) market. The announcement came from the Schlumberger New Energy arm of Schlumberger and from Panasonic Energy of North America, a division of Panasonic Corporation of North America. The lithium-extraction and -production process will be used by Schlumberger at the Nevada pilot plant of its Neolith Energy venture. According to Schlumberger, Neolith Energy's approach uses a differentiated direct-lithium-extraction process to produce high-purity, battery-grade lithium material while reducing production time from more than a year to weeks. The company also said the process significantly reduces groundwater use and physical footprint vs. conventional evaporative methods of extracting lithium.
Google announced on 19 May that it has tapped the geothermal startup Fervo Energy to develop a carbon-free source of power for the technology giant's data centers in Nevada. The project is part of Google's wider ambition to transition away from fossil fuels and purchase 100% renewable power by 2030. In its announcement, Google described the deal as "the world's first corporate agreement to develop a next-generation geothermal power project" that will represent "an'always-on' carbon-free resource." The plan calls for Fervo to begin supplying geothermal power to the power grid in Nevada that feeds Google's data centers and other infrastructure by 2022. The two companies will work together to use downhole diagnostics along with new artificial intelligence and machine-learning tools to increase the efficiency of the approach Fervo is pioneering.
The first 2 weeks of April have brought several reminders that the low-carbon technology train is continuing to move deeper into the investment portfolios of oil and gas producers. Below is a list of some of the biggest new investments and partnerships that have taken place during this span. Chevron is making its first foray into the burgeoning wind energy sector after its venture capital division shared yesterday plans to invest in a startup called Ocergy. The Nevada-based engineering company has developed a modular-design approach to floating foundations for wind turbines. This latest investment round included Norwegian industrial manufacturer Moreled which will tap its offshore wind business to help build the foundations that are aiming to be low-cost and therefore scalable.
Schlumberger New Energy will develop a lithium- extraction pilot plant in Clayton Valley, Nevada, under its newly launched NeoLith Energy venture. The move brings the company into the burgeoning battery metals business as demand from electric vehicle makers and other technology companies surges. S&P Global forecasts production of the battery metal is set to almost triple by 2025 to more than 1.5 million metric tons. Two lithium compounds used for battery cathode production are lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide, with carbonate currently making up the bulk of usage. In brine production, lithium chloride is extracted from alkaline brine lakes before being converted to carbonate, according to S&P.
The Trump administration has postponed more auctions from its regular oil and gas lease sale schedule. The two parcels, on 88 acres in Mississippi, had been scheduled for sale on 18 June. Earlier this year, the US Department of Interior's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) had proceeded with oil and gas lease sales of public lands as energy prices took a nosedive. The BLM had previously postponed a sale of seven oil and gas leases on more than 10,000 acres in Nevada that had been scheduled for 9 June. A Utah sale of four parcels on more than 4,000 acres scheduled for June was also removed from the calendar of the online auction platform EnergyNet.
The US Interior Department will auction oil and gas drilling rights on 535,000 acres of federal land--an area roughly twice the size of Los Angeles--over the next 6 weeks as part of its first oil and gas lease sales since March. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will begin a series of nine lease sales nationwide beginning 26 August, auctioning access to minerals in 13 states from Nevada to Michigan. Lease sales scheduled through the end of September will affect land in Alabama, Colorado, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming. Amid the coronavirus pandemic and economic turmoil in the fossil energy industry, the BLM canceled all oil and gas lease sales it had previously scheduled for the summer. The planned summer lease sales were to take place in states across the West, including Colorado, where the last federal lease sale was held 26 March.
The Colorado School of Mines' Robot Pentathlon team won the American Society of Mechanical Engineers' (ASME) West Student Design Competition held at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, competing against 10 other teams, reported the Colorado School of Mines website's Newsroom section. Mines team's remote-controlled robot competed in five different events designed to test its speed, strength and ability, and the technical design skills of its creators: stair climbing, weightlifting, sprinting, throwing a tennis ball, and hitting a golf ball. Members of the team are Daniel Schmerge, a sophomore in mechanical engineering; Jacob Aas, a junior in physics and mechanical engineering; and John Wiens, a freshman in electrical engineering and computer science. Their robot won in the stair climb, weightlifting, and throwing events, as well as the overall championship. The Mines team will next head to the World ASME Conference in November in Tampa, Florida, to compete against the top teams from other regional ASME E-Fests.
At the annual Black Hat cybersecurity conference, which took place last week in Las Vegas, Nevada, IBM's X-Force Red presented in front of more than 19,000 security professionals from roughly 90 countries a new attack technique they've nicknamed "warshipping." Similar to wardriving, when you cruise a neighborhood scouting for Wi-Fi networks, warshipping allows a hacker to remotely infiltrate corporate networks by simply hiding inside a package a remote-controlled scanning device designed to penetrate the wireless network--of a company or the CEO's home--and report back to the sender. "The U.S. Postal Service processes and delivers 484.8 million mailpieces of first-class mail a day--roughly one-and-a-half mailpieces for every person in the U.S.--in a single day," said Charles Henderson, the head of Big Blue's offensive security team. "What most people don't realize is that some packages they receive may be looking to steal personal or confidential information. And the proliferation of e-commerce-related package deliveries is exactly what cybercriminals can exploit with a tactic IBM X-Force Red is calling'warshipping'."
Environmentalists have sued a US agency to try to stop it from allowing oil and gas drilling on a vast stretch of federal land in Nevada, where the government is reversing protections put in place 9 months ago under the Obama administration. In this 9 December 2014 file photo, protesters rally outside the US Bureau of Land Management in Reno, Nevada, during the auction of oil and gas leases for energy exploration that critics say poses a threat to fish, wildlife, and groundwater. Environmentalists filed a lawsuit in Nevada to block an effort to expand oil and gas drilling on federal land. Two national conservation groups say the Bureau of Land Management is reversing course from policies it enacted in the final weeks of the Obama administration. The Sierra Club and Center for Biological Diversity say the US Bureau of Land Management illegally failed to consider potential consequences of hydraulic fracturing ranging from harm to the greater sage grouse to contamination of fragile desert water sources and emission of climate-altering greenhouse gases.
The photos of the 10,000 mirrors arrayed around the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy plant are striking and seem to suggest the futuristic concept is on a path to efficient, reliable, and cost-effective renewables. But, after years of accusations of mismanagement and unreliability in providing power, the plant's operator, Tonopah Solar Energy, threw in the towel on 30 July and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, recording about $430 million in secured debt owed to the US Department of Energy (DOE). It is seeking a settlement under which DOE will recover less than half of the original loan, around $200 million, according to documents filed in US Bankruptcy Court District of Delaware. Signs of trouble became evident last October when the developer of the project, SolarReserve, filed a lawsuit against the DOE and Tonopah Solar Energy, alleging the DOE interfered with its "right to participate in the management" of Tonopah Solar Energy. Just 2 days later, Nevada Energy, the largest electric utility in the state, provided a notice of termination on its 25-year renewable power-purchase agreement (PPA) with Tonopah, which was originally set to end on 31 December 2040, because of "frequent and prolonged outages."