G​M to make batteries by sucking lithium from a sea underneath a desert

We need to dig deep

8w ago

While EVs are billed as green vehicles, carmakers shy away from discussing the dirty extraction process of one of the major components of EV-powering batteries: lithium. The process involves mining in some very hazardous conditions, and the majority of it comes from the petalite ore in Australia and Chile. But even these sources are gradually running dry. Fortunately, GM has found a secondary and, more importantly, human-friendly source.

As per an Autoweek report, GM has signed an innovative contract with Controlled Thermal Resources to extract lithium from the bottom of desert waters. Essentially, a superheated-yet-dried water source hiding beneath the ancient waters of the Salton Sea situated in the South Californian desert accidentally filled up last century and accumulated lithium contents in the process.

The renewable energy firm is yet to compute the total lithium deposit present in the waters but estimates up to 600,000 tons of lithium per year could be found. To bring some context, that’s around seven times the entire world industry’s 2019 production of 85,000 tons. Additionally, if this Salton Sea source turns out as fruitful as it sounds, it could provide up to 40 per cent of the world’s lithium by itself.

“CTR’s lithium resource at the Salton Sea in California is one of the largest known lithium brine resources in North America,” CTR said in a release. “CTR’s closed-loop, direct lithium extraction process utilizes renewable power and steam—significantly reducing the time to produce battery-grade lithium products and eliminating the need for overseas processing. CTR’s operations will have a minimal physical footprint and a near-zero carbon footprint.”

GM became the first investor for Controlled Thermal Resources and expects to receive its first batch of lithium deliveries by 2024. This shall solve the issue of lithium scarcity and look to reduce the neglected human exploitation in the current extraction process. Plus, pundits believe this shall further reduce the production cost of batteries, ultimately trickling down to more affordable EVs in the future.

S​hould all carmakers look for human-free sources of lithium extraction? Comment below!

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Comments (13)

  • There has never been a lack of lithium, and it has never been a particular 'dirty' process getting it. Really just a distilling process and it takes time to set up at the scale needed.

    There is too much misinformation about battery technology, not as if ICE has a sparkling environmental past is it.

      1 month ago
  • Even though the Salton Sea was created by accident and it is slowly drying up because it has no inflow of water and is turning into a toxic soup and being that it is located in California I guarantee some radical environmental groups will stop any and all efforts to recover the lithium.

    Great idea but it will never produce a single pound of lithium.

      1 month ago
  • Those lizards and cactus were already getting buggered now they gotta deal with this shit too

      1 month ago
  • Well, if there is as much lithium down there as is being estimated, and if it can be extracted as boasted, that would be a very impressive and respectable step forward with this technology. It’s just too bad no one of relevance is talking about the fact that the worlds antiquated power grids will be completely overloaded from trying to charge all of these batteries. The battery/vehicle design and production is definitely the sexiest part of the equation, but it’s all just a party trick without a massive upgrade to the power grids.

      1 month ago
  • It looks like a ford bronco

      1 month ago