Reno-based Itronics scales up leach reactor plant
Reno-based Itronics Inc. announced Nov. 1 that it had completed installation of a leach reactor system that will allow processing of five times the raw material as its current technology.
The plant processes internally generated low-grade silver concentrates to recover raw materials for the company’s GOLD’n GRO fertilizer manufacturing and produces a high grade silver concentrate for its silver refinery.
This leaching technology is a “zero waste” process because all of the feed material is converted to useable products.
“It’s quite a significant achievement for our company,” John W. Whitney, Ph.D., president of Itronics, said in a phone interview with the NNBW. “It represents an operational achievement in a process we started working on 15 years ago.”
Itronics opened a factory in Stead in 2000 to turn photographic processing chemicals into fertilizer and silver-bullion. Since then, it has worked to expand the process and recycle other waste products.
Over the past year, significant improvements in process efficiency have been achieved, according to a press release from the company. About 90 percent of the raw material fed into the leaching process is now recovered and used in the manufacturing of the fertilizers. The 10 percent solid residual is a high-grade silver concentrate.
“It makes the process more efficient,” Whitney said of the new leach reactor system. “We will achieve quality improvements to a couple of our fertilizers.”
Itronics will also use the new system to test other processes as well as to support the existing manufacturing.
“We expect a couple different applications,” he said. “It sets the stage for additional developments.”
This technology may also be useable for testing the recovery of nutrient materials and production of metal concentrates from certain types of silver batteries and from non-rechargeable alkaline battery scrap.
Itronics has received numerous domestic and international awards that recognize its ability to successfully use science and engineering to create and implement new environmentally clean, zero-waste recycling and fertilizer technologies.
“The thing that I like most about entrepreneurship is I can work toward something that I’m passionate about and be at the forefront of the change that I want to see happen,” said Priyanka Senthil, a senior at Davidson Academy in Reno and co-founder of startup company AUesome.