back to article Lithium production needs investment to keep pace with battery demand

Growing demand for lithium for batteries means the sector will need $42 billion of investment to meet the anticipated level of orders by the end of the decade, according to a report. Lithium is used in batteries that power smartphones and laptops, but there is also rising use in electric vehicles which is putting additional …

  1. spold Silver badge

    Hmmm....

    >>>

    Lithium is used in batteries that power smartphones and laptops, but there is also rising use in electric vehicles which is putting additional pressure on supplies.

    <<<

    I guess we can expect higher charges....

    1. HildyJ Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Hmmm....

      It doesn't matter what article describes what issue.

      "I guess we can expect higher charges...." is a given.

    2. Geoff May (no relation)

      Re: Hmmm....

      You shouldn't be so negative about this.

      1. Swarthy Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Hmmm....

        Be Positive! If only to anode the pessimists.

  2. Snowy Silver badge
    Coat

    Electric cars

    They may be great for the environment but lithium mining in it's current form is very very bad for it.

    I find myself thinking if you add up the environmental impact of lithium mining and it's transport around the world how environmental friendly are current electric cars?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Electric cars

      I've long considered that using a more finite resource than the one we're currently using was a mistake. Lithium isn't a green alternative, what you're not told is how many hectares of forest are being ripped up so smug people can drive around in tesla's (other less smug alternatives are available).

      https://www.rainforest-rescue.org/updates/9890/the-dark-side-of-tesla-gigafactories-need-gigamines

  3. mark l 2 Silver badge

    We definitely need to be extracting more from spent batteries than just keep digging up more lithium out of the ground to keep up with demand. But it needs to be cost effective to recycle and not just a well meaning idea that doesn't work economically. As look at plastic recycling which was pushed by the petrochemical companies as a solution to the huge plastic problem, but in reality doesn't work for most plastics as its still cheaper to make new plastic than to use recycled.

    1. James Ashton

      Recycling lithium is uneconomical

      it needs to be cost effective to recycle

      With current technologies, extracting lithium from batteries is not even close to being economical. There is some recycling of lithium batteries, which sounds good, but they're mainly concentrating on other metals. Major break-throughs are required to change the situation. Until then, hopefully we at least form the old batteries into a pile in the hope of later processing, taking care to avoid chemicals leeching out into the environment and lithium fires.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sod electric cars

    The way electricity prices are spiralling upwards more and more people are aiming to install solar panels and to get the best out of these you also need to install big batteries at home. The waiting lists of these is shooting up do to supply problems.

    Hopefully they'll crack the production problems with sodium batteries soon and that will take a lot of pressure off the lithium supply chain. Sodium is much easier to lay your hands on (not sure what we'll so with all the waste chlorine).

    1. jmch Silver badge

      Re: Sod electric cars

      "big batteries at home"

      The required characteristics of home batteries are different though... Size and weight (and therefore energy density) is not so much at a premium, so plain old lead-acid batteries would work fine.

      1. James Ashton

        Re: Sod electric cars

        plain old lead-acid batteries would work fine

        Lead-acid could obviously be made to work but the fact that nobody seems to be using it strongly suggests it's not economic or has other problems. All the biggest grid-scale batteries are lithium-ion.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sod electric cars

      Problem is once sodium is attached to the chlorine and you get salt its immutable. Much like you can't take a pile of rust and make iron again.

      1. 42656e4d203239 Bronze badge
        Flame

        Re: Sod electric cars

        >> Much like you can't take a pile of rust and make iron again.

        Ohhhh yes you can.

        That's exactly what they do to weld railway rack... OK they use Al powder as well, which makes it not particularly 'green' as a process and there is the small matter of the extreme exothermic nature of the reaction to deal with but, none the less, you can take a pile of rust and turn it back into iron.

        icon is flame becasue thats what the Thermite reaction specialises in!

      2. Zolko Silver badge

        Re: Sod electric cars

        Much like you can't take a pile of rust and make iron again.

        actually, iron in nature can only be found rusted, that's why many rocks are red : you cannot find shiny pure iron in the Earth. But that's not a problem: when heated to 1500°C, the iron melts and becomes pure metal again.

        Dunno if it works for lithium though

        1. NeilPost Silver badge

          Re: Sod electric cars

          Melting point of Lithium is 180.5°C. Boiling point of Lithium is 1342°C.

    3. Spoobistle
      Flame

      Re: Sod electric cars

      There is sodium battery technology but it's hardly domestic yet. Lithium is safety marginal enough (fires etc) and sodium is much more reactive. It can be managed, it was used as a coolant in some nuclear reactors but I wouldn't fancy 100 kg or so in my basement. I don't know if anyone is working on magnesium, that's much more available than lithium but I guess the chemistry's not so good.

      Chlorine can be used for all sorts of industrial processes, notably bleaching, but seems to be considered green only in colour these days!

  5. Mike 137 Silver badge

    "Green Lithium"

    If by 'green' they mean minimal environmental impact, that's hard to believe. Even DLE only yields 1-2 grams of impure lithium chloride per litre of brine, so vast volumes of water (and masses of electricity) are needed. Conventional evaporative extraction (the dominant current method) is even worse. So however it's extracted lithium is good battery stuff, but very far from 'green'.

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