Lithium and Electronic Vehicle Batteries

January 28, 2022

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that annual worldwide Lithium production capacity is 91,000 metric tons. This equals 203,840,000 pounds (2,240 pounds per metric ton). An electric vehicle (EV) uses approximately 22 pounds of Lithium. Thus, if maximum annual Lithium production could be used exclusively for EVs, then EV manufacturers could produce 9,265,454 vehicles annually.
Since electric batteries don’t last forever, it is readily conceivable that, after only a decade, almost the entire production of Lithium would be needed to replace pre-existing batteries if only 10% of the existing stock needed replacement. (9.2 million cars x 10 years = 92,000,000 EVs outstanding – 10% annual replacement of 9.2 million cars as batteries degrade).
Obviously, our above example is extreme as Lithium is needed in many other products. Thus, annual production will be far below the maximum. However, the problem of replacing some percentage of existing stock will remain.
Increasing annual Lithium production by a material amount is not necessarily a viable option. Lithium is produced from underground brine and production above the natural refresh rate will destroy the water table and will create massive sinkholes.
To date, there is no alternative to Lithium as a major component in EV batteries. Smooth transition?


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