GM just cut a problem to tackle EV’s dirty secret
GM plans to utilize US-sourced lithium in its next-generation batteries for electric vehicles, tapping a fresh – and potentially less environmentally damaging – supply for the fundamental but controversial metal. Lithium batteries certainly are a key section of EV expansion, both for GM and even all automakers seeking to electrification, but the platinum has some significant drawbacks alongside it.
To begin with, most lithium happens to be mined outside the US, leaving American automakers influenced by foreign supplies. Current lithium extraction processes, meanwhile, are incredibly resource-intensive, particularly if it involves water. Some estimates peg that at 500,000 gallons per metric ton of lithium produced.
Today, General Motors announced it has inked a cope with Controlled Thermal Resources (CTR), a provider of US-sourced, low-cost lithium. The strategic investment and commercial collaboration will dsicover GM move to leading of the line with regards to the lithium supply, particularly from CTR’s Hell’s Kitchen Lithium and Power development in the Salton Sea Geothermal Field, situated in Imperial, California.
There, CTR plans to use a so-called closed-loop, direct extraction process. That takes lithium from geothermal brine, that includes a smaller physical footprint than traditional open-pit mines. In addition, it avoids evaporation ponds, and will be powered by renewable energy sources. Importantly, skin tightening and emissions are significantly lower for the technique, too.
“CTR’s closed-loop, direct lithium extraction process utilizes renewable power and steam – significantly reducing enough time to create battery-grade lithium products and eliminating the necessity for overseas processing,” the business said today. “CTR’s operations could have a minor physical footprint and a near-zero carbon footprint. The brine, after lithium extraction, is returned to the geothermal reservoir deep within the planet earth.”
CTR expects the initial stage of the Hell’s Kitchen project to begin with producing lithium in 2024. GM could have first rights on that yield, along with an option for an additional, multi-year relationship since it tries to secure a longterm lithium supply. Altogether, the automaker says, “a substantial quantity of GM’s future battery-grade lithium hydroxide and carbonate” could result from that facility.
It’ll be instrumental as GM ramps up electric vehicle plans across its various brands. While the almost all its electrified vehicles are hybrids, with the Chevrolet Bolt EV and Bolt EUV the all-electric outliers in america, General Motors has considerable ambitions for expansion using its Ultium platform. Which will see new battery chemistry and an all-new architecture useful for EVs across its nameplates.
Initially that’ll are the GMC Hummer EV and the Cadillac Lyriq, but Chevrolet is planning an all-electric Silverado pickup too. Ultium may also underpin GM’s expansion beyond its brands, with the platform set to create the foundation of new Honda and Acura SUVs. The 2024 Honda Prologue would be the first of those, accompanied by an Acura version also developed atop GM technology.