Technology 3 min read

New Lithium Production Breakthrough Revolutionizes EV Industry

China announces a technological advance that increases lithium production at a fraction of current costs. At a minimum, this could have enormous benefits for the electric car industry, not to mention the rest of the electronics sector.

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Without battery technology, there would be no electric cars, and the best batteries that currently can meet the industrial quantity and quality standards are lithium-ion batteries.

Lithium is where things get a bit, well, electric, for electric vehicles.

Known for decades for its virtues in the treatment of manic-depressive disorders, lithium is the same metal that powers electric cars.

In the global arms race over lithium or “white petroleum”, China is dominating for now — and not only because it has just announced a breakthrough in lithium production.

Good News for (Chinese) Electric Cars

Even if China controls about half of the lithium production in the world, it still needs imports to keep its EV battery industry running.

But there’s a bit of a problem here for China. Because by wanting to dominate the global EV business, China created a huge demand for lithium and caused prices to soar, which on the other hand causes EV prices to shoot up.

But now there’s good news. A state-owned company funded by the Chinese Academy of Sciences has finished their 15-year long research with a novel process that dramatically cuts the costs of lithium production.

Quoting a Chinese government report, the South China Morning Post says that the costs of lithium extracting have been cut to a “record low”. Compared to the current range of 12,000-20,000$ per tonne, the new lithium extraction process only costs of 15,000 yuan per tonne, around 2,180 in U.S. dollars.

Read More: Japanese Engineers Develop Self-Repairing Batteries

As the U.S. government started planning a “national electric vehicle supply chain strategy” that involves automakers and lithium miners, comes this lithium breaking news from China.

Bringing lithium extraction costs to a sixth of current prices would give China a new edge in its EV strategy. And one of the U.S. moves to thwart Chinese mineral production and EV dominance is legislation known as the Minerals Security Act.

The legislation that enjoys bipartisan support at the Senate was introduced by U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski among others.

Murkowski said:

“From a national security perspective, when you are vulnerable, as the United States is and many of our friends and allies are, on a resource that you need, that is a weakness. We don’t want that weakness to be exposed. My greatest challenge right now is to educate other members of Congress as to why this needs to be a national priority.”

Regardless of what the U.S Congress thinks of this deal, it is a major stepping stone for the EV revolution. With cheaper batteries, electric car companies can sell their vehicles at much lower prices, making them far more accessible to more people.

Read More: Top 5 Fastest Electric Cars on the Planet

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Zayan Guedim

Trilingual poet, investigative journalist, and novelist. Zed loves tackling the big existential questions and all-things quantum.

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