Sunday, August 21, 2022

Soaring Lithium Prices Putting Transition To Electric Cars In Doubt

With battery quality Lithium Carbonate regularly trading at above $US70,000 per ton ($73,300 today) a 500% increase over the 2018 price the impact  of this soaring cost of the main essential material in batteries for electric vehicles  is starting to impact the push to abandon fossil fuels and force us all into electric vehicles as petroleum powered engines are progressively banned by law.

 Worse still for makers of electric vehicles and virtue signalling politicians, analysts are predicting lithium price levels will continue to rise as demand for electric cars and goods vehicles grows. This does not suggest the relief the struggling motor industry so desperately needs ins on the way.

A report inThe Epoch Times, contains more bad news for the green blob, while increased domestic lithium production plays a crucial role in the green energy plans of Joe Biden's US administration, the UK government of outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the Commission of the European Union, and other developed nations that have allowed energy policy to be defined by Pippi Longstocking lookalike Greta Thunberg and the loonytoons science of the climate change scaremongers, lithium mining has quietly revealed itself to be a significant contributor to environmental pollution in the frantic rush to abandon fossil fuels.

America's Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said Biden’s historic investment in electric battery production and recycling would give the United States “the jolt it needs to become more secure and less reliant on other nations,” in a May 2 press release. But is lithum the answer? Some environmentalists believe that when it comes to lithium extraction, the end doesn’t justify the means.

“Our position is: mining is very destructive to the environment and communities. It needs to be approached judiciously,” John Hadder, director of Great Basin Resource Watch, told The Epoch Times.

In November 2021, United Nations  Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, mining, drilling, and burning during a world leader’s summit on climate change remarked, “We’re digging our own graves”.

“While lithium-ion batteries are light-weight and convenient for modern-day electronics, they not only emit a large amount of carbon dioxide to produce, but they also tap into precious water reserves,” chief operating officer of Greenly, Matthieu Vegreville, told The Epoch Times.

At the other end of the lithium debate are the spent electric batteries and the problems in disposing of them. Rumour has it that worn out Li - Ion batteries can be fully recycled, this is simply not true. Some materials in the batteries can be recovered and reused but no method has yet been developed for separating the the electrolytes so that the lithium can be reused. Thus a lot of spent Li - Ion batteries are being dumped. Improperly disposed lithium batteries can be extremely dangerous, lithium is a higly unstable material and is known to have caused landfill fires that can go on for years. The resultant toxic chemicals released into the air can also impact air quality and cause poisoning if inhaled by people or animals.

Also Lithium fires cannot be put out by throwing water on then as a wood or coal fire can, not by depriving them of oxygen by dousing them with san or carbon dioxide. When Lithium ignites it is due to an atomic reaction. Firefightters need special equipment and materials to deal with such fires. 

“One of the most ecologically friendly ways to dispose of a lithium-ion battery is to dismantle it,” Vegreville said. But this puts the lives of the dismantlers at risk.

Demand for lithium batteries is set to become a $116 billion industry by the year 2030, leaving some experts concerned that production may outstrip the industry’s ability to properly handle waste on the back end.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency admits special recycling and hazardous waste facilities are needed to deal with the influx of electric batteries. One standard electric car battery on average weighs over 1,000 pounds though only about 120 to 150 pounds of this is lithium according to industry figures..

In short, disposing of Li - Ion batteries in a safe and environmentally friendly way will need to be a highly regulated, multi-million dollar industry in its own right to reduce pollution and fire hazards.

Moreover, Hadder says the current political demand for lithium could end with a push for more toxic, unsustainable projects in the long run. And while he supports a transition to renewable energy overall, the current gold rush mentality for lithium is anything but green.


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