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Study: Lithium Fears Unfounded, Plenty To Meet EV Demand

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Mercedes-Benz S400 BlueHYBRID lithium-ion battery pack

Mercedes-Benz S400 BlueHYBRID lithium-ion battery pack

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There's been growing concern in the green car community about EVs and their reliance on lithium batteries -- specifically that there's not enough lithium on Planet Earth to go around. Thankfully, analysts over at Gerson Lehrman Groups have put those fears to rest (for now). According to their data, even if EVs were manufactured at projected 2015 levels, they'd only require 10% of the lithium produced in 2008, when mines operated at 75% of capacity. Of course, the price of that lithium, should Bolivia get grabby, is another matter entirely. [GLGroup via AutoblogGreen]

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Comments (14)
  1. Funny how all this talk about going green so we can stop being dependent on foreign oil just propels us into the arms of foreign lithium.
     
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  2. It'll also be interesting to see how this plays out in future as computers, cars and more and more consumer devices compete for the same resources.
     
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  3. Speaking of lithium, does driving a Li-ion hybrid improve your mood as a side effect?
     
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  4. What impact does disposing the battery have on the environment? Also , I agree with Interesting-now we have to rely on another foreign, "supplier,"?
     
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  5. What does happen when/if we run out of lithium? What is the downside?
     
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  6. Most of all ... and it should have been noted far and wide in the report, which I haven't read yet ... LITHIUM CAN BE RECYCLED!
    Just like lead in today's lead-acid batteries, which at 96-odd percent are the single most recycled consumer good on the planet, lithium can be extracted from dead lithium-ion batteries, chemically reprocessed, and reused.
    Contrast that to oil. Once we burn it, it's gone, baby. You can't recycle air pollution back into new crude.
     
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  7. yeah that was my question. is lithium the end point? or is this another stop gap ala the hybrid. should we really be developing something else?
     
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  8. From the paper: "Oversupply might be a more pressing question than lithium availability."
    Yep, sounds a lot like big oil and OPEC to me.
     
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  9. When are they gonna come out with them fuel cells already? we've been hearing about them for years...
     
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  10. Also - I wander what will we run out of first - oil or lithium?
     
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  11. @Joe (and following up on John): There's actually a fledgling lithium recycling industry afoot. You can read more about that here: http://ow.ly/ntPq
    .
    @Nebraska: The general consensus seems to be that hybrids are just a rest stop between combustion engines and plug-in EVs (if battery tech improves) or fuel cell vehicles. Fuel cells are the more advanced and eye-popping of the two, but the gap between here and there is a bit wider.
    .
    @Bob: There's at least one fuel cell on the road now -- the Honda FCX Clarity -- but it's only available in California. We just ran a piece about a new Mercedes fuel cell that's coming to America in 2010. It may be California-only, too, but expansion of the hydrogen infrastructure is slowly happening: http://ow.ly/ntQZ.
     
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  12. What if we run out of Lithium eventually? If going green is consuming other natural resources untill it run out on us, I don't buy it. I wish just like solar energy and wind energy, if there is a all natural solution for this.
     
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  13. @Richard @Bob (more): The general consensus in the industry is that hydrogen cars have a long, long way to go.
    Not because the storage tanks and fuel cells themselves can't be engineered to an acceptable level of reliability, size, and cost, but because there is ZERO infrastructure for providing hydrogen to consumers.
    So the impediments are:
    (1) Need to set up nationwide / global H2 refueling infrastructure; and
    (2) Need to figure out how to produce the needed amount of H2 at an acceptable cost for energy.
    And it's that latter one that's the hard nut. It takes a *lot* of energy to disentangle H2 from its chemical bonds. So the energy balance of providing H2 may in fact be no better, on a "wells to wheels" basis, than is oil today.
    Electricity, on the other hand, is distributed in at least some form (110 Volts) to every single American house and business.
     
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  14. @ interesting
    "Funny how all this talk about going green so we can stop being dependent on foreign oil just propels us into the arms of foreign lithium."
    It's good to see a lot of companies setting up lithium-ion production in the U.S. at least.
     
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