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Will Trade: Taconite Tailings for Solar Tiles

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What to do with stuff left over from taconite mining after the iron ore has been removed? Years ago the answer might have been make a big hill, or dump it into a big lake. But tile casting.jpgresearchers at the University of Minnesota-Duluth's Natural Resources Research Institute have other ideas.
    
Among them: With the help of a seed grant from IonE's Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment, NRRI project engineer Kyle Bartholomew is pilot testing the concept of using taconite tailings to make decorative tiles. The tiles not only look good, they also can function as part of a passive solar energy system, absorbing the sun's energy and radiating it as warmth to provide an efficient source of space heating for homes and businesses.

The process Bartholomew developed starts with a pile of tailings, which look like dusty gray gravel. Bartholomew heats the tailings until they melt, then uses molds to shape the molten material into shiny black tiles. In one test run, he arranged the tiles into a 5-foot by 9-foot array and measured the amount of heat it radiated when struck by the sun's rays. With air temperatures below zero, Bartholomew found the panel could heat its surroundings to 80 degrees.

tiles.jpg Used in a trombe wall-type array, Bartholomew says, the transformed taconite panels could add an artistic touch to a room and also help heat it on cold winter days. He's now working with a private-sector partner to move the tailings-to-tiles clean energy invention into commercial production.

Photos courtesy of Kyle Bartholomew

13 Comments

I think this is an excellent use for all those piles of ore on the Iron Range!

"Years ago the answer might have been make a big hill, or dump it into a big lake"

Doesn't this just make you cringe at the things we used to do to our world?

Actually, we probably still do these things but we just don't see it done in the open.

This news should only help the green-living initiative. It's great that the tiles don't need to "convert" solar energy into electricity to power the heater. That would be great here in the UK.

An excellent flooring and interior knee-wall covering for greenhouses and solariums. Good work Kyle.

I always feel good when I read good story about alternative energy.

Corporations and politicians often try to denigrate those who work hard to find sustainable, clean energy. Great article.

Thanks! A great example of the value of creative thinking.

I agree this is a brilliant story, I enjoy reading about people coming up with new uses for left over substances, especially when it involves sustainable energy.

I also agree that certain corporations are working against sustainable energy because they are making considerable profits from non-renewable energy sources.

I look forward to more examples of creative thinking in the future.

He is shared the right information with us.i think these comments you made will also helps great for us.

Thank you for your comment!

That may be the choice come true, when it will be available or not?T that's a great idea.

I believe it is available! You could contact Kyle Bartholomew at the University of Minnesota Duluth to find out.

This is a good chance for people like me to get idea behind this

Thank you Mary for your article about Eye on Earth. There is more information on solar power energy at this link.

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This page contains a single entry by Mary Hoff published on July 22, 2011 7:57 AM.

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