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I just started thinking about this right now and slowly started to do some research.

How much lithium is there in the earth and how much can be produced? How much is needed to produce one sizeable automotive battery? How many batteries could be made and when would lithium reserves be depleted? What are the environmental affects of mining and producing lithium?

Everyone talks about wanting to switch to battery power because it provides a clean, renewable source of energy. However, how clean is lithium to begin with? Lithium itself is not renewable so what happens if and when we run out?

In my brief search I found this article first. http://www.evworld.com/library/lithium_shortage.pdf
I don't know how much of it is true as I haven't really dove into the topic too much yet. It sounds like most of the lithium supplies are in South America (80% or so.) Basically with this movement from oil to batteries (especially lithium) the US would basically be "switching dealers" from the Middle East to South America. Albeit, the relationship between most of South America and the US is a little more stable than the Middle East what sorts of problems might arise in the future.

Would this push for batteries as a fuel source being leading us down another slippery slope? Is it better to just cut our loses now and stick with using petroleum?

I, personally, need to look into this more and try to understand how much lithium is needed per battery and what the cost of lithium extraction actually is in terms of environmental risk and other things.
 

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I don't have all the answers but here is some info on this subject.

It has been widely writen that the supply of lithium is limited and will quickly be consumed if we use it in cars. But then I read an article that showed how those reports were poorly researched and just plain way off, claiming there is plenty of lithium, being really quite common. Can't remember all of the places that it is available but China is another big supplier of lithium.

As far as staying hooked on oil instead of lithium the answer here is a no brainer. I think lithium can be recycled. So once it is here... it is here.

Another point is that if all foriegn countrys cut us off from oil tomorrow it will only take until next week (very quickly anyway) before the you are out of energy for your car.

If on the other hand all countrys cut us off from lithium your car will still get you around 20 years later and beyond.
 

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Another point is that if all foriegn countrys cut us off from oil tomorrow it will only take until next week (very quickly anyway) before the you are out of energy for your car.

If on the other hand all countrys cut us off from lithium your car will still get you around 20 years later and beyond.

That is a great point! I did not make that connection. So true! Also:

1) There is a lot of lithium.
2) There will be a full recycle program.
3) New battery chemistries are being developed.
4) New electrical storage technologies are being developed.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Many folks had said that there is lots of petroleum as well. Many folks are still saying that now so why should we worry about the supply.

I agree that there are other battery technologies potentially available and being researched which could use minerals that are more abundant.

When it comes to recycling the lithium battery cells I don't think that there is enough capacity to start recycling a large number of automotive cells. I know that most recycling programs won't necessarily be needed for another 15 or 20 years but I also don't know what is involved with setting up a program and what actually needs to be done in order to recycle a lithium battery as such.

I read an article by Isidor Buchmann that said the average cost of recycling batteries is $1000 to $2000 per ton and that the price could easily double based on transportation requirements for moving the batteries to facilities. I'd assume that at the point of sale car prices would have to include taxes or levies on battery recycling and/or a refundable deposit on the battery that would be returned when the old battery is returned for recycling.

My concern about a limited supply of lithium also could have implications on battery cost. It is logical to assume that as production increases and technology increases that lithium battery prices will decrease but if the price of the raw lithium input increases that could negate any sort of price decrease wrt to scale factors. Depending on lithium reserves and the rate at which it might be consumed in the coming future lithium prices could sky-rocket worse than oil prices have recently.
 

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There is a study available from ESU (a research consulting company based in Germany) called "Life Cycle Assessment for Lithium and Lithium Compounds" that could be an interesting read but at 500 Euro's it's unattainable for me. In the abstract though they mention that over 700MJ equivalent of difference energy resources are used to produce one kilogram of lithium.
 

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So after all those years, do we have enough lithium for every car on the planet or the studies show that lithium will become more rare over the next years which will just keep the electric car prices high?
 

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So after all those years, do we have enough lithium for every car on the planet or the studies show that lithium will become more rare over the next years which will just keep the electric car prices high?
I wouldn't worry about it. A Lithium Ion battery is made of lots of things - and most of them aren't Lithium. The Volt's pack has less than 10 pounds of Lithium in its 435 pound mass:

http://gm-volt.com/forum/showthread.php?19531-environmental-impact-of-the-battery-life-cycle

Lithium can come from lots of places, including the ocean itself, and the batteries are easily recycled. Chances are we'll come up with some new storage approach long before we need to worry about the supply.
 

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Like aluminum cans, lithium is recyclable. The gasoline used in a car? Not so much. We burn it.
 

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I wouldn't worry about it. A Lithium Ion battery is made of lots of things - and most of them aren't Lithium. The Volt's pack has less than 10 pounds of Lithium in its 435 pound mass:

http://gm-volt.com/forum/showthread.php?19531-environmental-impact-of-the-battery-life-cycle

Lithium can come from lots of places, including the ocean itself, and the batteries are easily recycled. Chances are we'll come up with some new storage approach long before we need to worry about the supply.
Good to know, that's reassuring.
 

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Although there is a finite amount of all minerals, Lithium is a rather common element. At current extraction rates, known reserves will last 400 years. Of course that is just the currently known reserves. And of course if the demand for lithium increases extraction will increase. If the known reserves were only used to make Volt batteries and Volt batteries only use 10 pounds of Li, as someone said, then the known reserves could make over 2 billoin Volt battery packs. Also as someone wrote, Li can be recycled, however, it can also be destroyed (it burns at a low temperature (under 400 degrees f)). Bottom line... I don't think we need to worry about running out of Li for a very long time, battery technology will probably change long before there is a Li shortage.
 

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I just started thinking about this right now and slowly started to do some research.

How much lithium is there in the earth and how much can be produced? How much is needed to produce one sizeable automotive battery? How many batteries could be made and when would lithium reserves be depleted? What are the environmental affects of mining and producing lithium?

Everyone talks about wanting to switch to battery power because it provides a clean, renewable source of energy. However, how clean is lithium to begin with? Lithium itself is not renewable so what happens if and when we run out?

In my brief search I found this article first. http://www.evworld.com/library/lithium_shortage.pdf
I don't know how much of it is true as I haven't really dove into the topic too much yet. It sounds like most of the lithium supplies are in South America (80% or so.) Basically with this movement from oil to batteries (especially lithium) the US would basically be "switching dealers" from the Middle East to South America. Albeit, the relationship between most of South America and the US is a little more stable than the Middle East what sorts of problems might arise in the future.

Would this push for batteries as a fuel source being leading us down another slippery slope? Is it better to just cut our loses now and stick with using petroleum?

I, personally, need to look into this more and try to understand how much lithium is needed per battery and what the cost of lithium extraction actually is in terms of environmental risk and other things.
Well keep your hands in your pocket before you invest in any lithium mining stocks...:)
http://www.smallcapnetwork.com/What-s-the-Best-Lithium-Mining-Stock/s/via/3414/article/view/p/mid/1/id/1212/
 

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Guess I'll just stick to lanthanides scandium and yttrium
 

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Also as someone wrote, Li can be recycled, however, it can also be destroyed (it burns at a low temperature (under 400 degrees f)).
Lithium is not destroyed as a result of burning. That is a chemical reaction where lithium combines with another element (e.g., oxygen) and forms a new compound. While it's true that lithium could theoretically be destroyed permanently, I don't see CERN clamoring for more lithium to slam together at near light speed.
 
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every resources and mineral are just limited. well strategic planning must be needed to use all these minerals for the longer period of time. Lithium is extensively used in batteries. Lithium has a high electrically potential and produces a relatively high voltage compared to other batteries. Lithium metal has a low density which means that lithium batteries are relatively light. These properties make lithium batteries ideal for use in portable appliances such as laptop computers and digital and video cameras, and electric cars as well.
 

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every resources and mineral are just limited. well strategic planning must be needed to use all these minerals for the longer period of time.
Petroleum aside, I think the next biggest impact will be a shortage of Helium. If you listen to the hype, a typical party balloon should cost about $100 were it not for the artifically low pricing. Those balloons at your kid's birthday party could very well cost them an MRI in 50 years.
 

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Everybody and his brother is going after lithium in a mighty big way. And this new demand for lithium is going to eventually make more angry and upset around the globe, as lithium becomes "in demand" for batteries in EVs, the Boeing 777 and what ever else needs an effective electrical power source. (Angry and upset, please keep reading...)

El Paso, Texas is a very large border city however my former hometown has one of the lowest crime rates in the nation on a per capita basis, and many experts claim, because it is because of the naturally occurring presence of lithium in the water, drawn from deep water wells. No other city in the United States has lithium levels anywhere near, what is found in my old hometown,
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,905404,00.html

El Pasoans are some of the friendliest, happiest and most jovial people on earth... maybe because of the lithium they consume. Lithium is used in the treatment of bipolar disorders and other aspects of anger management and mood problems.

I'm thinking someone should pump El Paso water into the water supply that feeds into Faux News and Reuters and the New York Post or at least when the batteries in out Volts have reached the end of their service period, perhaps we should recycle the lithium, add them to our own bottled water called "You'll Get A Charge Outta This" and we can all become rich beyond our wildest expectations.

I always knew that people who drove and owned Volts, were some of the happiest people on the planet, it might just be partly due to our close proximity to this "happy" substance.
 

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Basically with this movement from oil to batteries (especially lithium) the US would basically be "switching dealers" from the Middle East to South America.
You don't think it's a bad premise, to compare >10,000 pounds of gasoline to about 50 pounds of lithium :confused:
 
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