Statevolt acquires 135-acre site near Salton Sea to build 54 GWh gigafactory
Albemarle ups lithium demand forecast to 3.7 MMt in 2030, calls for higher prices to support new projects to meet demand gap

Study calls for reduction in car ownership, battery size and vehicle dependency to limit environmental impact of surging lithium demand

A report prepared by the Climate and Community Project, a climate policy think tank, with researchers from UC Davis, suggests that the United States can achieve zero emissions transportation while limiting the amount of lithium mining necessary by reducing the car dependence of the transportation system, decreasing the size of electric vehicle batteries, and maximizing lithium recycling.

The report says that reordering the US transportation system through policy and spending shifts to prioritize public and active transit while reducing car dependency can also ensure transit equity, protect ecosystems, respect Indigenous rights, and meet the demands of global justice.

US consumers are embracing electric vehicles (EVs), with more than half of the nation’s car sales predicted to be electric by 2030. A crucial aspect of electrified transportation is new demand for metals, and specifically the most non-replaceable metal for EV batteries—lithium. If today’s demand for EVs is projected to 2050, the lithium requirements of the US EV market alone in 2050 would require triple the amount of lithium currently produced for the entire global market. This boom in demand would be met by the expansion of mining.

Some level of mining is necessary to build out zero-emission energy systems, the report concedes, but notes that the volume of extraction is not a given. Neither is where mining takes place, who bears the social and environmental burdens, or how mining is governed.

The authors designed a material flow analysis paired with socioeconomic pathway modeling to determine possible scenarios for the decarbonization of personal transportation in the US. They then compared the lithium requirements of four pathways to zero-emissions personal transportation: an electrified continuation of the current US car-dependent status quo, and three scenarios that adopt increasingly ambitious policies to support public and active transportation and reduced car dependency.

Results show that:

  • Compared to a decarbonization scenario that maintains US vehicle ownership rates, scenarios that reduce car dependency, and therefore use and ownership, and limit EV battery size can lower the demand for lithium between 18-66%.

  • Even if the car-centricity of the US transportation system continues, limiting the size of EV batteries alone can cut lithium demand by as much as 42%.

Reiofrancos

Annual lithium demand reduction for us passenger transport as a function of best and worst cases for future vehicle ownership rates, vehicle design, and recycling in 2050. Reductions scale proportionally; for example, recycling reduces lithium demand by 50% for any scenario combination chosen. Riofrancos et al.


The authors examined four cases of lithium mining: Argentina, Chile, the United States, and Portugal. In each of these cases, proposed or ongoing lithium mining has implications for drought intensity, ecosystem biodiversity, and Indigenous sovereignty and/or community participation in projects that threaten cultural landscapes and economic livelihoods, the authors said. Reducing the lithium intensity of electrified transportation would in turn mitigate a key driver of these harms.

Lithium supply chains span the world from Latin America to China to Australia, with new extraction being planned in Europe, Canada, the United States and beyond. The massive uptick in demand is already producing supply bottlenecks for EV production, slowing EV uptake, calling into question their affordability, and stoking geopolitical tension as nations compete for access to lithium deposits. Lowering the amount of lithium necessary for decarbonization will limit bottlenecks and lower the potential of environmental degradation, injustice, and conflicts associated with mining.

Mining-related harms and looming supply constraints are two reasons to reduce the material intensity of electrified transportation, the authors said. In addition, existing research has found expanding mass transit hastens decarbonization.

A combination of vehicle electrification, declines in car usage and ownership, and reductions in the size and weight of personal vehicles (to increase their energy efficiency) are necessary steps that must be pursued in combination to remain within a sectoral carbon budget consistent with limiting to 1.5-2°C of warming.

The speed of decarbonization of light-duty vehicles is limited by the turnover of the existing vehicle fleet and its replacement with EVs, as well as the decarbonization of the electricity grid. Producing EVs and building and maintaining roads, highways, and parking lots are energy- and emissions-intensive processes with high levels of embodied carbon.

Riofrancos2

Comparative chart of e-Hummer, EV, e-bus, and e-bike lithium intensities.Riofrancos et al.


Electrification of the US transportation system will massively increase the demand for electricity while the transition to a decarbonized electricity grid is still underway, increasing the magnitude of that challenge. Public transit and active transit tend to be more energy-efficient methods of allowing people to move around; increasing the shares of travel happening by these modes will hasten decarbonization.

Reducing the size of passenger vehicles also can make the roads far safer because smaller cars have fewer and less severe crashes. Making bus routes, metros, electric bikes faster, safer, and more convenient will disproportionately support low-income and non-white community members, the authors said.

Resources

Comments

yoatmon

I really don't understand all the hype about Li as a battery component. There are many other elements that are far more plentiful than Li besides offering higher energy density, and are cheaper and safer than Li.
GMG in Australia has made a good start with Aluminum and Graphene. This battery is safer, cheaper, has longer cycle life and more energy density and hence more range. Why in the world must it be LI?

Jer

Bleeding-Heart Liberal Sentimental Nonsense.
They need to provide a report that such policies would ensure GDP growth, high levels of employment/ work participation, strong consumer and technical-education/development behaviour, strong culture of travel and personal experience exploration, and all the other human achievement and goal-oriented behaviours that make life worthwhile.
I could never support a Beautiful Nature -over- a Human Technical & Economic Achievement World.

yoatmon

"I could never support a Beautiful Nature -over- a Human Technical & Economic Achievement World."
Well, I personally want both sides of the coin; not just one or the other.

Variant003

I grew up a short bicycle ride from UC Davis - we jokingly called it the communist republic of Davis. VERY left leaning even 30 years ago when all the farm communities around were very conservative and liberal (classical). I would expect no less from that university, their ideals are usually short sighted or highly polarized to specific view point. BTW - located 20 minutes from California state capitol.

While overt or excessive consumerism is bad, I think we can come up with a different solution other than everyone live in apartments like Bruce Willis in 5th element.

I think alternative battery chemistries, PHEV, FEV, etc all working together will be short to medium term. Maybe a longer term solution is combination of public transport (train) and charge in motion (inductive road way). A lot of people drive 400 miles (about 650km) on I5 between north and south of California. Adding an inductive charge lane (modern version of electric gantry for buses) would allow for down sized battery and eliminate charging stops.

electric-car-insider.com

I’d love to see better, cleaner, public transit but hand wringing about lithium extraction vs acknowledging the vastly larger harms of hydrocarbon extraction is comedically unserious.

Davemart

It is interesting that the supposedly avant-garde electric car enthusiasts are so often allergic to acknowledging that it is so regressive to support simply replacing cars with an equal dependence of electric ones is a nonsense, when de-caring society can offer so many benefits.

I am very pleased to note that here in Bristol, UK, after decades of trying to become a faux Los Angeles, we are now moving towards walkable neighborhoods, public transport and bikes, whilst progressively restricting cars.

That is a worthwhile future, not Megalopolis in electric cars.

Lad

Currently lithium is the element of the day; but, me sees others as coming forth...I'm rooting for NaS just 'cause it would be so cheap!

Herman

Again, we private individuals are supposed to restrict mobility and take buses and trains.

That's insane! Every day, heavy pickups and trucks are driving around on the streets, often for fun.
The compulsion to use BEVs, which are usually at least 4000 pounds, makes more sense! So is this ecological? In Germany, the Tesla X and Tesla 3 are delivered in large numbers from China and then leased to business people at high cost thanks to state subsidies. tesla had a profit of 13 billion dollars in 2022 but is subsidized!

The battery raw materials will of course destroy the environment, but the BEV Apostel doesn't care because only the ICE vehicle is considered a polluter. Crude views!

what can and must you do as an individual private citizen?
I have decided to drive small cars like this around the MY 2000 as it is ecologically light as it weighs only 2200 pounds and they also do over 40 mls per gallon of gas! So why a BEV that has to be given away to the scrap dealer after 10 years because the replacement battery modules are too expensive or the batteries cannot be repaired.

WHAT IS ECOLOGICAL NOW AND WHO WILL FORBID PEOPLE FROM PERSONALLY FREE MOBILITY?

electric-car-insider.com

The idea that an EV has to be scrapped in 10 years because it needs a new battery is disinformation.

I put 120,000 miles on my Tesla Model S over 10 years and it only lost 6 miles of range. I have a friend who has 245,000 miles on their Model S.

Take reasonable care of your car and it will last a long time.

If you’re lucky, and it becomes a classic, it will even be worth much more than you paid for it, and its upkeep.


Gryf

We should look at Norway. Last year 80% of the new vehicles were EV and in 2025 no more ICE cars will be sold. Norway is also encouraging the use public transport, bicycles or even walking, and Norway is a leading Oil and Gas country.
Of course, this will not work everywhere, particularly if there is not an electric mass transport system already developed. For a year in Japan, never drove an auto, did not need to use one since there was an excellent system in place.

Good news! Honda the world’s largest manufacturer of ICE is going to promote electrification. Since this also includes 2 and 3 wheel vehicles, this could make a large impact all over the world.
“Honda to Make Organizational Changes (Effective April 1, 2023) to Further Accelerate Electrification Business and Realize New Value Creation”
https://global.honda/newsroom/news/2023/c230124beng.html?from=RSS&from=newsrelease_area

sd

First, I would agree that there are a number of solutions. Second, I would agree with eci that the batteries will last considerably longer than 100,000 miles if you do not abuse the battery. Third, I would not worry that much about having sufficient lithium. If there is a shortage, people will start looking harder. They have found a fair amount in the Salton Sea area in California and also some in the great Salt Lake. Also, there is sufficient research and development on various lithium sulfur chemistries that I believe that a good solution will be found. Lithium sulfur has at least 3 times the energy storage as lithium ion so for the same range, you only need the 1/3 the amount of lithium. The one element that I worry more about is cobalt but with lithium sulfur, there is no cobalt or manganese or nickel. Also, with lithium iron phosphate there is no expensive metals other than the lithium. We probably need so lower cost BEVs with smaller ranges and lithium iron phosphate batteries. The Wuling Hongguang Mini EV (SAIC-GM-Wuling) and the Chery QQ Ice Cream (hey, I did not make up the names) are both mini BEV cars that sell for less than $5000 US in the Chinese market in their base configurations. Obviously, these cars are not suited for the North America or European markets but we could and probably will have lower cost BEVs to fill out the market.

Davemart, for a period of time when I lived near Boston, I mostly commuted on my bicycle which was mostly good. I liked bicycling but it was not as practical in Utah for commuting. I was riding a motorcycle quite a bit until about 11 years ago when someone driving a AAA service truck pulled a U-turn in my face on a 2-lane road. Fortunately, I was dressed for the occasion with a full face helmet, armored jacket and gloves and boots but I still ended up with a broken neck, back and hip. Mostly recovered but am a bit stiff. I still ride a bicycle but not in traffic. If I still rode a motorcycle, I would get an electric motorcycle but I am almost 80 so I will have to stay with the Chevy Bolt for most of my driving.

Davemart

Hi sd

The US is in a tough place to reduce car use to reasonable levels, with zero provision for walking made in numerous places, unthinkable in Europe, for instance.

And bicycle lane provision and traffic segragation is on a whole other level.
Getting around anywhere reasonably central in London, for instance, is not only safe and largely segregated, but way faster than driving

Of course, even in more rural areas of Europe managing without a car is a lot tougher, but hopefully when real as opposed to fake autodriving arrives then getting about in a taxi service will be a lot more practical even there.

The Executive Conman in Chief at Tesla has just announced that the customers he has already stiffed for the fake version for thousands are just unlucky, and no upgrades to his latest, improved fake, are on offer.

It baffles me why anyone would buy anything at all from that sociopath.

Davemart

Electric car insider:
'The idea that an EV has to be scrapped in 10 years because it needs a new battery is disinformation

You then go on to attempt to demonstrate the point by reference to a single model with a thumping great battery, which of course will have to cycle far less for a given mileage than one with a big one.

There are likely to be plenty of folk with BEVs with smaller batteries which loose an impractically large amount of their already limited range and after ten years get a thumping great bill to replace it in an old car where it really can't be justified.

That is aside from potential issues with fire hasard etc, as an aging battery increases risks, when there are already plenty of spectacular examples of a fiery end even to newish ones.

Your evidence does not warrant the absolute conclusions you seek to draw from them.

electric-car-insider.com

It’s hard for any clear-thinking person to reconcile Davemart’s position on BEVs, which he’s promoted for over ten years here and on various other forums, with the irrefutable facts.

When mass market BEVs with lithium ion batteries were launched in 2010 in the US and globally, range was between 70-80 miles. They were suitable for short commutes and grocery shopping. Many didn’t even have fast charging. They found a small market because of those limitations. I leased a Ford Focus Electric starting in 2012, so I understand the benefits and limitations of a 70+ mile EV very well.

Tesla showed that electric cars with 200-300 mile range and excellent fast charge infrastructure were practical and incredibly popular. I purchased a Tesla Model 3 in Seattle and drove it to San Diego using the newly installed Supercharger network. I drove it all over the US, conducting dozens of road trips of 500+ miles.

Now, virtually all new BEVs have 200-300 miles of range. Anyone can buy an electric car with as much range as my original Model S for a price similar to my original Focus Electric.

It’s such a practical, popular option that last year, almost 20% of new car sales in California were plug-in electric.

But Davemart would have you believe that that risk of fire in an electric car is a scary danger, while promoting hydrogen fuel which is a genuine hazard.

Gryf

All of you may be aware that Akio Toyoda (the grandson of the founder) has stepped down as CEO of Toyota. His comments a few days ago:
“that he was an "old-fashioned person" who struggles to understand next-generation trends. He could not lead the company beyond that of a "carmaker" and had reached his "limits" as Toyota chief, he said.”
https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Automobiles/Toyota-s-next-president-Who-is-Koji-Sato
Koji Sato, former Chief Engineer of Lexus, looks like he is capable of taking on the new challenges facing Toyota.

BYD announced that the new 2023 BYD Seagull will have a 30 kWh Sodium Ion battery and cost $8,800 USD in China. This is Kei car territory and may be coming to Japan. However, Toyota has BYD connections and Daihatsu (a Toyota company and leading Kei car manufacturer) is partners with CATL and CBAK Energy - both have Sodium Ion battery technology.

Sato needs to address the BYD challenge. A Daihatsu Kei EV and a Toyota Yaris EV are required, preferably with Sodium Ion batteries.

This does not address the US market which loves SUV, trucks, and Crossovers. Though, as EV designs focus more on efficiency, even these applications can work with smaller batteries that use earth abundant materials. No mass transport or bicycles necessary.

Emphyrio


Remember the scene in Who Killed the Electric Car where they hold a funeral for the EV1? And he says it's a car that won't meet all our needs, only 90% of our needs. Correct, a 26 kWh battery giving 100 miles range.


A study came out here in France the other day on distance people travel to work.


8 million people here travel less than 5 km or 3 miles to get to work. Nearly all of the rest, another 16 million, travel less than 50 km or 30 miles. And the overwhelming majority use their car, even for a 2 km trip.


We only need a 10 kWh battery for the daily commute, to replace all that fossil fuel. And 10 kWh is also easy to recharge if necessary at work from a standard plug, a 2kW supply is plenty.


But people are reluctant to buy an EV with a 20 – 30 kWh battery because of what do you do when you do need to do a long trip? It's just too inconvenient to hire etc.


Which is why what should have been promoted, not sabotaged, is the PHEV with a 10 kWh battery, so people can do their daily commute etc, 90% of their driving is all electric and they have long range in the same car when they need it. And then we have 6 or 7 affordable normal weight cars on electric 90% of the time instead of just one unaffordable car that weighs as much as a tank on electric 100% of the time.


The attacks and undermining of the PHEV are either instigated by or play into the hands of the oil companies, since it keeps EVs marginal and niche whereas 6 or 7 times as much fossil fuel could have been replaced if we had had a sensible strategy of promoting PHEVs.

Emphyrio

A study came out here in France the other day on distance people travel to work.

8 million people here travel less than 5 km or 3 miles to get to work. Nearly all of the rest, another 16 million, travel less than 50 km or 30 miles. And the overwhelming majority use their car, even for a 2 km trip.

We only need a 10 kWh battery for the daily commute, to replace all that fossil fuel. And 10 kWh is also easy to recharge if necessary at work from a standard plug, a 2kW supply is plenty.

Which is why what should have been promoted, not sabotaged, is the PHEV with a 10 kWh battery, so people can do their daily commute etc, 90% of their driving is all electric and they have long range in the same car when they need it. And then we have 6 or 7 affordable normal weight cars on electric 90% of the time instead of just one unaffordable car that weighs as much as a tank on electric 100% of the time.

The attacks and undermining of the PHEV are either instigated by or play into the hands of the oil companies, since it keeps EVs marginal and niche whereas 6 or 7 times as much fossil fuel could have been replaced if we had had a sensible strategy of promoting PHEVs.

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