MIINE TAILINGS TO SOLAR ENERGY
The innovation consists of a virtuous energy cycle process obtained from a concentrated solar power plant with three value-added deliverables: 1) the process converts mine tailings into solar glass reflectors by melting the silica content using solar thermal energy, 2) a side-process at a lower temperature gradient produces MCM-41 mesoporous silica, a highly profitable catalyst and sorbent, and 3) the generation of solar electrical energy.
How Does It Work?
The central argument in our proposal is to manufacture concentrated solar mirrors and MCM-41 sorbent out of mining waste as raw material, both essentially free as an input raw material (especially if processed on site) and sustainable in that it repurposes waste into valuable long lasting materials. These materials can produce renewable energy locking up the waste in glass, and produce MCM-41 sorbent for wastewater treatment, air emissions and even CO2 capture. Since the primary energy source in our proposal is solar energy (thermal in solar furnaces, optionally electricity from concentrated solar power), itself generated by the reuse of the tailings, we have no or low (if hybrid energy sources are used) fuel costs or emissions, representing a big improvement over the current state of the art mirror and MCM-41 production.
Proof of Concept
DisruptMining Challenge by Goldcorp (semi-finalist) [link]