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University of Michigan and Ford researchers see plentiful lithium resources for electric vehicles

Researchers from the University of Michigan and Ford Motor Co. report in Journal of Industrial Ecology that even with a rapid and widespread adoption of electric vehicles powered by lithium-ion batteries, lithium resources are sufficient to support demand until at least the end of this century.

For their study, they assessed the global availability of lithium and compared it to the potential demand from large-scale global use of electric vehicles. The researchers compiled data on 103 deposits containing lithium, with an emphasis on 32 deposits that have a lithium resource of more than 100,000 metric tons each.

The data collected included deposit location, geologic type, dimensions and content of lithium, as well as the current status of production. Using the definition of a lithium resource as a deposit from which production is currently or potentially feasible economically, the researchers estimated a global lithium resource of about 39 million tons.

The second part of the study examined lithium demand for the same 90-year period (2010-2100). Demand was estimated under the assumption of two different growth scenarios for electric vehicles and other current battery and non-battery applications.

Areas studied related to demand were lubricating grease, frits and glass, air conditioning and portable batteries, as well as batteries for hybrid electric, plug-in hybrid electric and battery electric vehicles. The total demand for lithium was estimated to be in the range of 12-20 million tons, depending on assumptions regarding economic growth and recycling rates.

Even with a rapid and widespread adoption of electric vehicles powered by lithium-ion batteries, lithium resources are sufficient to support demand until at least the end of this century.

—Gruber et al.


  • Gruber, P. W., Medina, P. A., Keoleian, G. A., Kesler, S. E., Everson, M. P. and Wallington, T. J. (2011), Global Lithium Availability. Journal of Industrial Ecology. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-9290.2011.00359.x



It's nice to see someone put out correct information regarding lithium resources. Recall a while back when reports discussed that Bolivia (not our friend) had the largest lithium resources in the world. Well, that is still true. But what does it really mean. Those reporting intended it to imply that we would be trading a dependance on oil for a dependance on lithium. All I can say to that is bunk! Many countries have already developed lithium supply sources with more than enough capacity to supply huge lithium demand. Bolivia is way behind. The US produces more lithium than Bolivia. When you read these resource stories (the next scare will be rare earths, which by the way are not so rare) take a close look at the language, and try to determine if they are talking resource or production. For instance, you will hear that China has nearly all of the worlds rare earth production. This is true, but they don't have anywhere near all of the rare earth resources. There are rare earths everywhere, it's just that it was cheap to buy from China and then let then deal with the mining. If they raise the price even ten percent or stop exporting someone else will develop a resource and fill the gap, although there could be a delay in filling the void. It takes time and money and vision to develop these types of resources, something we no longer know how to do. But the point I am trying to make is that Lithium and Rare earths are not oil. They are not in limited supply and they are also not consumed. Just because current production rates don't match potential demand doesn't mean the resource doesn't exist, it just means that no one has prepared to supply future demand, which is a human failing rather than a fundemental limitation.


Indeed. Geothermal brines in California alone are sufficient to support substantial EV production, and they are (or were) literally being wasted. We are a long way from a shortage of lithium, and that assumes that sodium-ion batteries do not become practical.


There is an almost infinite amount of Li in seawater. Commercial extraction is close to reality. It will be renewable Li, because eventually every old battery ends in the sea again.


Speculators create bubbles with false rarities. They are getting very good at it.


What happened to all the morons running around here, and every other forum they could find, claiming that we had a lithium shortage?

We had to listen to them whine and moan on here many times....where are you guys? Care to step up now and admit you were wrong???


And all those who wrongfully claimed that we cannot produce enough e-power for 250 million BEVs?


Harvey D,

We have plenty of elctric generation for BEVs, as long as Lisa Jackson, John Holdren and assorted other cranks and crackpots are not in the government too long.

They are talking of closing all coal fired electric generation, both good and bad plants; and have already designated 60,000 megawatts in Texas alone, to be too dirty to continue to operate.

As perspective, Consider that the entire worlds solar electric output has not reached 60,000 megawatts, reveals just how stupid and unrealistic these eco-wackos really are.

These are same daft fruitcakes that would outlaw Yellowstone National Park as a source of pollution, too dangerous for people to be near.

They have also reduced and established arsenic levels that disqualify the drinking water of 60% of the Western states as unfit to consume, although people have been drinking it with those tiny background levels for several hundred years to thousands of years, to no ill effect.


I have to agree with you on that one, ExDemo. Holdren's a crackpot, for sure. I'm an environmentalist, but he's just a mentalist. In the 70's he tried to cook up a crisis over "Global Cooling". I also read the material you're commenting on, plus the faked data about polar bears drowning because of AGW, when in fact, their numbers have grown, ice cap melt (well, it might be melting in Greenland, but it sure isn't in Antarctica - the caps are growing there), and other faked data. But - there is nothing wrong with getting rid of pollution; the current administration has just gone way too far. My main concern about EVs is how long the battery will last and what it costs to replace the darn thing. I'll go EV in a heartbeat, if I can afford it.

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