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Sparc’s game changing joint venture could create low cost ‘ultra green hydrogen’ without electricity

Special Report: One of the core technologies in the fight against climate change is green hydrogen, clean-burning H2 gas produced … Read More
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This article was originally published by Stockhead

One of the core technologies in the fight against climate change is green hydrogen, clean-burning H2 gas produced by sending an electrical pulse – generated by wind or solar power – through water.

While it has support from the upper echelons of the business world, a major roadblock to the production process is its cost relative to current forms of hydrogen production, which use fossil fuels as a feedstock.

But what if you never had to produce electricity at all?

Sparc Technologies (ASX:SPN) today announced it will link up with the University of Adelaide to progress an Australian made “ultra green hydrogen” technology that does not require electrolysis to extract the lightweight gas from water.

Without the costs of generating renewable energy, the project partners are targeting a commercial scale technology to help meet the $2/kg target widely regarded as the mark green hydrogen needs to limbo under to be cost competitive.

Game changing technology

Marking a big move for the graphene technologist into green energy, Sparc Technologies believes the globally significant project can be a game changer for the hydrogen industry, expected to be worth up to US$12 trillion globally by 2050.

“Green hydrogen energy has often been touted as being able to provide base load electricity, however it has struggled to compete economically against conventional fossil fuel base load electricity,” Sparc Technologies executive chairman Stephen Hunt said.

“This globally significant project offers a realistic pathway to achieving economically feasible green hydrogen energy and to advancing industry to net-zero.”

Hunt said Sparc was looking at applying its existing graphene expertise in the green energy space as well, developing graphene coatings to be used in conjunction with a catalyst in the production process.

“Developing additional graphene applications in the ultra-green hydrogen energy space is also a very important growth opportunity for Sparc.”

The process

The ultra green hydrogen process developed by University of Adelaideand Flinders University.

It involves the use of photocatalysis, the acceleration of a photoreaction in the presence of a catalyst.

In catalysed photolysis, light is absorbed by an adsorbed substrate. In photogenerated catalysis, the photocatalytic activity depends on the ability of the catalyst to create electron–hole pairs, which generate free radicals like hydrogen to be able to undergo secondary reactions.

Photocatalytic water splitting is an artificial photosynthesis process with photocatalysis in a photoelectrochemical cell used for the dissociation of water into its constituent parts.

In other words, only light energy and a catalyst could be needed to split water into oxygen and hydrogen, which has emerged as the likely replacement for gas and diesel in heavy industry and long haul vehicles.

On top of the potential cost savings, without the footprint associated with massive scale wind and solar farms, the technology can also be adopted remotely at the site of use, reducing the development and transmission costs of electricity and transport.

So far there has been plenty of research into the topic, but no technology has been commercialised.

Sparc and the University of Adelaide are looking to change that.

The Ultra Green Hydrogen Process. Pic: Sparc Technologies

Joint Venture terms

The Australian Solar Thermal Research Institute, the UoA and Flinders University have invested $2.5m to date over a 5-year period into the research.

A provisional patent was applied for in April 2021, and research has already been undertaken on the use of graphene to be used in conjunction with the photocatalyst, where the prototype demonstrated a significant increase in hydrogen production with certain temperatures.

Under the JV the University of Adelaide will retain 28% of the JV with Sparc taking a 72% share.

Sparc will issue 3 million shares to UoA and put $4.75 million into the project over the next 4.5 years, including $2m for the 2.5 year first stage, $2.5m over the second stage and $250,000 to be paid to UoA for operations set up and a scholarship.

“This is an exciting opportunity for us to combine with the University of Adelaide, reconfirming our commitment to seeking out and developing new green technologies that include Sparc graphene technology,” Sparc managing director Mike Bartels said.

“The hydrogen production process we are developing is world leading, cutting-edge in that it does not require electrolysis as the means of producing hydrogen.

“Employing patented technology, hydrogen will be produced by a process known as photocatalysis and most importantly this project is not just about delivering green hydrogen – we are confident that this process will deliver ultra-green hydrogen at the low end of the cost curve.

UoA Executive Director, Innovation & Commercial, Dr Stephen Rodda said: “This joint venture is a perfect example of the University of Adelaide’s internationally regarded research being brought to a commercial outcome, which we hope will have benefits for industry and the community.

“We are proud to be the leading university involved in this venture, applying our research and innovation in responding to one of the great challenges of our times: the development of green energy solutions for our planet.”

Placement to fund JV

Sparc has received firm commitments to raise $2.8 million before costs, via a placement of 4 million shares at 70c a pop.

The placement, conducted at a 21.8% discount to Sparc’s last traded price of 89.5c, was conducted by Discovery Capital Partners and Westar.




This article was developed in collaboration with Sparc Technologies, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.


This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.


The post Sparc’s game changing joint venture could create low cost ‘ultra green hydrogen’ without electricity appeared first on Stockhead.

Author: Special Report

Precious Metals

NEO Lithium’s Closest Neighbor Gets Ready to Drill


When Neo Lithium started early stage exploration they recovered surface lithium grades of 190 mg/L compared to 373 mg/L for Portofino Resources adjacent Yergo property.

If you believe in the old adage, “the best place to find a deposit is near an existing one,” you should consider Portofino Resources (TSX-V: POR). This Vancouver-based company holds an option to acquire a 100% interest in the Yergo lithium brine project located in Argentina, in the heart of the Lithium Triangle, along with the Allison Lake North lithium and rare elements property. Portofino also owns five gold projects in Canada, and is overseen by an exceptional management team with deep experience in the resources industry.

One of the reasons that all eyes are on the Yergo project is the growing demand for lithium to support the green revolution. As one of the world’s lightest metals, lithium is playing one of the largest roles in our green and clean future. The EV global market is already seeing parabolic growth, from $140 billion back in 2019 to a predicted $700 billion in 2026. In turn, analysts have warned that this has put incredible pressure on existing battery metal supplies.

We don’t think that the raw material supply-side is ready for the wave of demand that is coming…the rapid rise in raw material demand sees deficits forming over the next decade even if we assume all known projects come to market,” predicted UBS analysts earlier this year.

By 2025, almost 75% of all the world’s lithium output will be dedicated to just electric vehicles, if not even more. The IEA expects demand for lithium to surge by a staggering 40-fold by 2040. 

This has industry experts asking – where will the supply come from?

Sharing a similar geological history with a world class asset

Argentina, Chile, and Bolivia comprise what is known as the Lithium Triangle, and these countries host a whopping 75% of the world’s lithium resources. Portofino’s Yergo project is a salar located approximately 15 kilometres southeast of Neo Lithium’s 3Q project – one of the largest and highest-grade lithium brine deposits in the world. It was initially discovered in late 2015 and took only five years to advance to the construction phase. In October of this year, Neo Lithium announced it had received an all cash, takeover offer of $960 million for all its outstanding equity from Zijin Mining. 

Situated in the Lithium Triangle which accounts for >40% of global production in concentrates and >90% of lithium brine resources, Yergo’s close proximity to the 3Q project is significant because the 3Q deposit hosts some of the lowest sulfate and magnesium impurities, classifying it as a world class asset. Furthermore, the 3Q project has measured and indicated resources of lithium grades of >900 mg/L. Portofino’s Yergo project is potentially an extension of the same salar as this neighbouring project with similar grades and low impurities. David Tafel, Portofino’s President and CEO commented:

“Given the proximity of Neo Lithium’s 3Q project, it is likely that the Aparejos salar has experienced a similar geological history, including lithium and potassium enrichment, due to their common evaporitic climate and local geology. The 3Q and Yergo projects are located within the same volcanic package likely with exposure to the same potential lithium source rocks and mineralizing processes.”

Portofino carried out an initial exploration program at the Yergo property in 2019 which included surface and near-surface brine sampling and geological mapping. The sample results reflected values of up to 373 mg/L lithium with low impurities. Following the initial sampling program, Portofino conducted a geophysical survey and geochemical sampling program in 2021. The project is drill ready with an initial drill program expected to commence shortly which will test the volume and content of the brines. 

Neo Lithium’s early stage exploration at their 3Q project in 2016/2017 recovered initial surface lithium grades of 190 mg/L compared to up to 373 mg/L for Yergo. Subsequently, Neo Lithium discovered surface samples in the northern salar containing an average lithium concentration of 784 mg/L. 

While we’re not implying that Yergo is definitively an extension of 3Q, we believe it’s a high odds possibility, and results from the their drill program will prove out Yergo’s significant potential. 

In April 2021, Portofino reported that it was adding to its lithium portfolio with the acquisition of the Allison Lake North lithium and rare elements property, located 100 kilometres east of Red Lake, Ontario. It is accessible by logging roads while a hydro-electric power line runs through the property. Ontario is home to several well-known lithium and rare element deposits, notably the PAK lithium deposit along the “Electric Avenue,” as well as the Spark deposit. 

Portofino completed a channel sampling and initial exploration program at the Allison Lake project in June, 2021. Initial grab samples returned values up to 398 ppm Li, 90.5 ppm Cs, 1040 ppm Rb, and 135 ppm Ta. Looking forward, this project will be the focus of an expanded geological exploration program. 

This is highly significant when considering that the global quest for electric vehicles and clean energy has caused lithium to emerge to the forefront as one of the most necessary components for lithium-ion batteries. 


Furthermore, the processing of lithium brine to produce battery-grade lithium carbonate is a relatively simple process which has been tested for over 20 years. With the Zijin Mining proposal to acquire Neo Lithium for its 3Q project, it’s not a stretch to assume that other acquisitions and joint ventures will follow. 

Add in a high-grade gold portfolio

In addition to it’s two lithium projects, Portofino also holds the South of Otter and Bruce Lake projects in the Red Lake District, as well as Gold Creek, Sapawe West, and Melema West projects in the Atikokan District of Ontario. Both South of Otter and Bruce Lake projects are proximal to the Dixie Gold project, a high-grade gold deposit currently being explored by Great Bear Resources Ltd. (TSX-V: GBR). In the Atikokan District, the Gold Creek property is located immediately south of the Shebandowan Ni-Cu mine, and the Sapawe West and Melema West properties are located east of Atikokan. 

As noted above, the Red Lake District has been a hotbed of exploration activity as Great Bear Resources, PureGold Mining (TSX-V: PGM), and others have been exploring and developing the area’s prolific mineral potential. Past production and current resources in the Red Lake Gold Camp have been estimated at 41 million ounces of gold. 

With a drill program about to commence we believe smart investors will be quick to pick up on the lithium potential of Portofino’s Yergo project with the added kicker of a strong gold portfolio located in highly prolific geological areas. 




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Energy & Critical Metals

Flexible fuel gas turbines meet airports’ power needs for today and tomorrow

Despite the financial and operational challenges brought to bear by the global pandemic, the Aviation industry reaffirmed their global commitment to Net…

Despite the financial and operational challenges brought to bear by the global pandemic, the aviation industry reaffirmed their global commitment to Net Zero at COP26 Transport Day.

By Martino Bosatra, Board Member and Managing Director at SEA Energia

Martino Bosatra, Board Member and Managing Director at SEA Energia

One of the areas that attention is being focused on is the aviation industry. As hubs of the sector, airports are under increasing pressure to reduce their operations’ carbon footprint.

Within Europe, the European Green Deal sets the objective of making Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050: a commitment that places a particular responsibility on the aviation sector.

In response to the European Green Deal, the aviation industry has brought forward this date, ensuring that by 2030 European airports will have a zero-carbon footprint.

Emissions from airports fall under scope 1, 2 and 3 accounting as defined by the GHG Protocol.

Scope 1 is emissions from airport-owned or controlled sources, such as airport-owned power plants that burn fossil fuel and conventional vehicles or ground support equipment that uses fossil fuels.

Scope 2 covers indirect emissions from the use of purchased energy for electricity and heat.

In contrast, scope 3 covers indirect emissions that the airport does not control but can influence, such as tenant emissions, on-airport aircraft emissions and emissions from passenger vehicles arriving at or departing the airport.

The EU Commission’s more recent Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy reiterates the urgency of transitioning to zero-emission airports, whereby the best practices followed by the most sustainable airports must become the new normal and enable more sustainable forms of connectivity.

Milan leading the way to reducing emissions

Between them, Milan’s two biggest airports, Malpensa (MXP) and Linate (LIN), handle 33 million passengers a year during regular times. Malpensa is one of the most important airports in Europe, offering 3,500 direct flights each week and numerous intercontinental and long-haul destinations for a total of 200 destinations.

Keeping these airports running efficiently requires reliable power. SEA Energia (Società Esercizi Aeroportuali) is responsible for the electricity, heating, and cooling of these two airports. The company needed to revamp its existing power plant at Milano Malpensa Airport to meet stricter environmental legislation and ensure a reliable supply of power, heating, and cooling. The path they took was to replace an existing aero-derivative turbine with a Siemens Energy gas turbine of type SGT-700.

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SEA Energia operates on an exclusive basis for a single major customer, producing electrical, heating, and cooling energy. The company’s strategic vision focuses on the sustainable generation of value across its three main components: economic, environmental, and social. Its operations at the two airports aim to save resources, reduce air, soil, and water pollution, and constantly monitor activities to ensure maximum system efficiency.

Part of the concept includes upgrading the existing power plant at Milano Malpensa by replacing one of two existing aero-derivative turbines, an ageing Rolls Royce RB211, with one new SGT-700. This gas turbine is an ideal fit for power generation and mechanical drive applications.

With the high exhaust heat, it is also excellent for cogeneration and combined cycle applications. The SGT-700 employs an 11-stage axial-flow transonic compressor incorporating the latest aerodynamics, with variable guide vanes for robust operability and optimized performance over a wide range of operating conditions.

The two-stage uncooled free power turbine offers a nominal shaft speed of up to 6,500 rpm. For mechanical drive, it may run at 50% to 105% of the nominal rate. The power turbine can be matched for optimal performance at different ambient conditions. The installation of the new gas turbine will help SEA Energia enhance its plant performance both from an efficiency and an environmental perspective.

Siemens Energy preserved much of the existing plant and allowed power generation continuity on the second RB211 turbine that was to remain in place. As the airport continued to operate, it was essential to avoid any disruptions to the power plant’s regular operation.

Overcoming a triumvirate of challenges

To ensure the successful delivery of the project, three significant challenges had to be overcome. The first was to ensure that there was no interruption or disruption to the operation of the power plant. To achieve this required Siemens Energy to install the new turbine into the system without jeopardizing the plant’s regular operation.

Then came the actual logistics. This was the first SGT-700 delivered by air freight instead of traditional sea routing. This involved some tricky discussions with the air freight company regarding fitting the turbine inside the Antonov transport plane.

Finally, there were the challenges presented by COVID-19. The pandemic struck the world early in 2020, and the effects are continuing to disrupt operations. This had a significant impact on the supply chain for manufacturing the turbine. Several suppliers closed their premises or reduced capacity due to pandemic working practices.

It took a considerable effort from the purchasing department to ensure that the schedule was kept on track. Further complications arose because of the lack of face-to-face meetings with stakeholders and EHS organizations on the site during the progress of the project. A worldwide footprint limited the possible negative impacts, and delivery of the new SGT-700 package was achieved on schedule.

A smooth commissioning process

The project kicked off at Malpensa in June 2020 when the Siemens Energy team arrived on-site to begin site preparation. The old turbine was removed and shipped back to the RB211 refurbishment site in the UK.

The requirement that this is achieved whilst not disrupting the plant’s performance presented some challenges, particularly with the narrow spaces in the area due to the presence of existing equipment.

This was particularly problematic when it came to the lifting operations: with the existing package weighing over 150 tonnes and measuring 14 meters in length, this required careful coordination. The current air intake, ventilation intake and local electrical room had to be preserved and adapted for the new turbine.

Once the old turbine had been removed, the foundations were checked and repaired, and the gas turbine and associated generator were delivered to the site in November. Once the turbine was in place, installation could begin.

Firstly, it was connected to the existing system, both mechanically and electrically, before checking the instrumentation and the interface with the control system. Then came commissioning, which involves confirming that the reinstalled system could communicate with the existing plant. With this checked, the machine could be connected to the power grid with gas fed to the turbine for the first firing. In this process, the machine is fired up and allowed to rotate while connected.

If that is successful, the next step is to connect the machine and synchronize it to the grid. Once it has passed these steps, the circuit breakers are closed, and power can be fed to the grid.

Benefits for today and tomorrow

“The journey started more than three years ago with a challenging permit process, which is now completed,” said Martino Bosatra, CEO of Sea Energia. “During this journey, a strong relationship has been built between Sea Energia and Siemens Energy.

This relationship has created, for both partners, a lot of value, especially in terms of learning and collaboration but also in identifying potential solutions which might help SEA to reach its own target in carbon footprint reduction.”

Once the plant is up and running in June, SEA Energia will enjoy three significant benefits: lower emissions, higher efficiency, and greater reliability. It will allow SEA Energia to comply with the ever more restrictive regulations on emission limits set by the Italian Region of Lombardy for power plants. The SGT-700 will significantly decrease the site’s emissions while meeting all the airport’s requirements for power, heat and cooling.

The Siemens Energy SGT-700 gas turbine. Image: Siemens Energy

The contract guarantees compliance with the emission limits for environmental pollutants, especially NOx, CO and PM. With the SGT-700 optimizing the output, higher energy efficiency can be achieved. The turbine will also improve reliability to the customer with its proven track record of hundreds of thousands of working hours worldwide.

For SEA Energia, the prime focus was on improving the airport’s day-to-day operation, but above and beyond that, there are further possibilities down the road. One opportunity could be to partake in the grid capacity markets that allow generators to sell any extra capacity back to the power grid. Although market conditions do not make that a priority at present, it is an option for the future.

Secondly, and more relevant over the long term, is the turbine’s flexibility towards fuel. While natural gas is the preferred option, there is a growing movement towards utilizing hydrogen for power generation. With technology now available to generate green hydrogen, hydrogen produced using only renewable energy – a technology that Siemens has developed with its Silyzer electrolysers – the path is open to making the power plant’s environmental footprint even smaller.

Siemens Energy is already running the turbines with a mix of gas and hydrogen and guarantees that by 2030 all SE gas turbines will run entirely on hydrogen.

This is a significant assertion for operators, reassuring them that their investment will continue to be futureproof whatever the future path of the energy transition.

The post Flexible fuel gas turbines meet airports’ power needs for today and tomorrow appeared first on Power Engineering International.

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Energy & Critical Metals

Galan’s HWM project value jumps 120pc after update on lithium prices

Special Report: Galan Lithium has updated the Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA) study for its flagship Hombre Muerto West (HWM) Project … Read More

Galan Lithium has updated the Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA) study for its flagship Hombre Muerto West (HWM) Project in Catamarca Province, Argentina, based on a revised lithium price.

The original PEA was based on an average lithium price of US$11,687/tonne to the year 2040, with the updated study using the long-term average real lithium price assumption (2025-2040) of US$18,594/tonne battery grade lithium carbonate (LCE).

The unleveraged pre-tax net present value (NPV) has increased to US$2.2 billion – a 120% increase from US$1 billion in 2020.

The internal rate of return (IRR) is 37.5%, the project has less than a three-year payback period and the average life-of-mine annual EBITDA is US$287 million, up from US$174 million.

The company now has two PEA study level projects – HMW and Candelas – which have a combined long term production potential of 34ktpa LCE and a combined pre-tax NPV of US$3.4 billion.

‘Phenomenal’ NPV on conservative price assumption

The updated economic study retains the original production profile of a long-life 40 years+ project at 20,000 tonnes per annum of battery grade LCE, including competitive cash production cost for Li2CO3 of US$3,518/tonne in the first quartile of global lithium cost production curve.

Galan Lithium (ASX:GLN) managing director Juan Pablo Vargas de la Vega said the updated project economics for HMW show how healthy the project is.

“Despite using a conservative long-term price assumption, HMW has delivered a phenomenal pre-tax NPV of nearly US$2.2 billion,” he said.

“The company is in an enviable space whereby it has two study level projects that can potentially deliver combined long term production levels of 34ktpa LCE along with NPVs that are above US$3.4 billion.

“As we have previously said, Galan remains excited about the potential value add for our shareholders once we enter the lithium market with prices expected to be +US25k/tonne LCE.

“Our projects would now be among the lowest cost of any future producers in the lithium industry, due to their high grade and low impurity setting, green credentials and a low carbon footprint.

“Galan is excited to be a part of the solution to the global decarbonisation story.” 

Long term estimate of the contracted price of battery grade Li2CO3 developed by Roskill

DFS planned in 2022

Since the release of the original HMW PEA Study in 2020, the company has confirmed laboratory lithium chloride concentrations of 6% lithium several times and confirmed production of lithium carbonate battery grade of 99.88% LCE from its concentrate.

It has also received permits for new drilling and Stage 1 construction permits for the HMW camp and pilot plant.

During 2022, Galan will be undertaking a definitive feasibility level study (DFS) with the appointment of an independent, well credentialed engineering firm imminent.

The company also expects the new HMW drilling to increase its indicated resources as well as a likely move into the measured and indicated mineral resource category.




This article was developed in collaboration with Galan Lithium Limited, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.


This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.

The post Galan’s HWM project value jumps 120pc after update on lithium prices appeared first on Stockhead.

Author: Special Report

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