When zinc hydrolysis is used to produce hydrogen, the market price of zinc powder drives the cost of production. The lower the cost of zinc powder, the lower the cost of hydrogen. A market price of $7.00/kg for zinc powder would result in a price of $6.00/kg of hydrogen, assuming dissociation losses of 10% per hydrolysis cycle.
In contrast, Blackstone obtains zinc ore from its wholly owned and federally patented zinc, copper, and silver deposit in southern Idaho, eliminating the need to purchase zinc powder on the open market. The zinc oxide is dissociated off-site at regional zinc powder distribution centers. At the Blackstone the process also recovers polymetallic matte bullion the proceeds of which offset zinc oxide production costs creating significant additional profits. This economic matrix allows hydrogen pricing at a discount to the market and a negative cost of production.
The science of hydrolysis (aka: “water splitting”) has been known since the 19th century. In 2005, an international research consortium at the Weizmann Institute in Israel built a 300Kw electrical generation plant fueled by hydrogen from zinc hydrolysis. More recent projects at Stanford University, University of Delaware, University of Colorado, and Hangzhou Dianzi University in China confirm solar carbothermic production of zinc powder from zinc oxide for the production of hydrogen.
Using the same technology, the Blackstone Method fumes zinc-rich ore from hydrogen-compatible reserves to produce zinc oxide. The zinc oxide is shipped to a central dissociation facility for dissociation to zinc powder. Following dissociation, the zinc powder is shipped to individual hydrogen dispensing stations equipped with hydrolysis reactors that convert zinc powder into a combination of green hydrogen and zinc oxide.
You could, but purchasing zinc powder on the open market would be cost-prohibitve. A constant and inexpensive supply of zinc powder and zinc oxide is critical to sustain hydrogen production. We produce zinc oxide from our wholly-owned, 100-acre mineral deposit. Production costs are completely offset by the sale of the copper matte bullion that results from zinc fuming. This actually creates a negative cost of production and allows us to distribute green hydrogen for as little as $1.00/kg.
Assuming a local hydrogen station dispenses 400 kg of hydrogen per day, Blackstone's near-surface ore reserves would support 23 stations for more than 18 years.
Based on a 2016 USGS report and other geological studies, the Blackstone is likely to be one of the few remaining zinc-copper-silver deposits in which mineralization extends at least 1.5 miles below the current workings. A 180'-wide visible metallic zone spans the length of the property for over 1.5 miles. Estimates show there could be as much as 500 million tons of hydrogen-compatible ore in that zone alone. This would produce 130 million tons of hydrogen if the mineral values in the zone are consistent with the reserve ore.
Blackstone ore is processed in two steps. Ore is first ground to -200 mesh and then roasted in a rotary kiln at 400° C to remove sulfides. Roasted ore is then fired in a graphite-lined kiln at >907° C, vaporizing the zinc content. The vapors are injected with an aerosol water spray in a hydrolysis reactor, which produces hydrogen and zinc oxide.
In the second step, borax glass and sodium carbonate are mixed with the remaining calcine, the kiln temperature is raised >1200° C, and the mixture poured into molds. The impurities are absorbed into the borax glass while the copper, lead, silver, and gold form an amalgam of metal bars at the base of the mold. Based on the metallic content of Blackstone ore reserves, the bars would weigh about 125 lbs. each. At current commodities prices, and after deducting refining costs, each bar would be worth about $850, adding about $1.10 of pretax profit per kilogram of hydrogen produced.
Blackstone Mining Company, Ltd. is the sole owner in fee-simple-title of the Blackstone property in Elmore County, Idaho (“Property”). Blackstone Mining Company is an Idaho corporation and is wholly owned by the Hawley Family Trust. Blackstone Green Energy, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidary of Blackstone Mining Company.
The authorized capital of Blackstone Mining Company is 50,000,000 shares of which 12,000,000 shares have been issued to the Hawley Family Trust. The Trust members are: Jim Hawley, Marilyn Green, Christopher Hawley, and Kaili Hawley. The only shares issued and outstanding are those issued to the Trust.
The Property consists of five federally patented claims situated in sections 13, 14, and 15, T.2 S., R.10 E., Boise Meridian, approximately 85 miles southeast of Boise, Idaho, The Property lies at an elevation of approximately 5,850 feet and extends along the crest of a low granite ridge that rises about 1,000 feet above the Camas Prairie valley to the north. The Property is accessed from U.S. Highway 26 and Elmore County Road 68.
The Blackstone is one of the largest and most prominent mineral properties in the Volcano Mining District. As early as 1870, prospectors in search of gold and silver discovered numerous strong mineral-bearing outcrops at the Blackstone. Since that time the Property has been the subject of intense professional interest. In 1903, the Property was acquired by former Idaho Governor James H. Hawley and his partner, Judge Samuel Rich, who patented the claims in the name of Blackstone Mining Company, the current owner.
Known primary metals are zinc, copper, lead, manganese, gold, and silver. Small amounts of nickel, rare earth elements, and traces of palladium have also been reported.
In 2005, scientists from the European Union and Israel developed the “SOLZINC” method for storing solar energy in zinc oxide, creating a continuous hydrolytic cycle for producing hydrogen fuel. Building on the success of that project, the Company has developed a patent-pending technology for producing hydrogen directly from zinc ore.
The technology injects water into vapors from fumed zinc ore to create hydrogen gas and zinc oxide as a byproduct of the reaction. Similar to the SOLZINC project, our method dissociates zinc oxide to elemental zinc powder using solar powered vacuum furnaces and electrowinning. The zinc powder is shipped to individual hydrogen dispensing stations equipped with Blackstone-method hydrolysis reactors. The reactors convert zinc powder into a combination of green hydrogen and zinc oxide.
The Blackstone property operates off-grid, requiring (2) 120kW, 3-phase, hydrogen-fueled electrical generators to process 40 tons per day of ore.
The dissociation center’s primary power comes from a 1OOOkW solar array. In the Yuma Center example, solar power is used because the area averages 310 days of sunshine per year. In addition to solar power, dissociation centers also have standby hydrogen-fueled electrical generators.
Hydrolysis reactors at the dispensaries do not require significant power. Power for additional equipment (e.g., vacuum pumps, reagent meters, and computer monitors) is small and can be self-generated from hydrogen-fueled generators or obtained from the local power grid.
At the turn of the twentieth century, the Blackstone was a near-surface mine that shipped ore to a smelter in Salt Lake City. A smelter settlement record from that period showed one shipment worth about $100,000. In the mid-1980s, a Canadian company cut a 40-foot-deep open pit, exposing about 300 feet of the 1.5 mile polymetallic zone that spans the property. That company shipped 3,500 tons of ore valued at about $1,950 per ton.
While the Blackstone has a long history as a mining property, it is even more valuable now because of its exceptionally high zinc content that enables production of green hydrogen. Polymetallic values are still important because they offset the costs of hydrogen production; however, our intent is to use the Blackstone property primarily as a source of zinc for conversion to hydrogen.