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Discovery of a gigantic lithium mine in the United States could make batteries for almost half a billion electric cars

11 June 2024 to 17: 51
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Discovery of a gigantic lithium mine in the United States could make batteries for almost half a billion electric cars
Did you know that the United States could be on the verge of a revolution in the electric vehicle market? Image: Formula Turbo/Disclosure

Did you know that the United States could be on the verge of a revolution in the electric vehicle market? Recently, researchers discovered a gigantic lithium mine that could be enough to make batteries for almost half a billion electric cars. But does this discovery put the United States at the forefront of the electric car race?

The story begins with researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, in collaboration with the United States Department of Energy. They carried out a detailed study of the lithium mine in the bed of Lake Salton in California. That research revealed an impressive amount lithium, enough to manufacture batteries for 370,5 million electric vehicles.

To understand the magnitude of this discovery, consider that the United States currently has approximately 2,4 million registered electric vehicles. With demand for electric vehicles growing rapidly, this reserve could be key to meeting the growing need.

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It is estimated that by 2030, the number of electric vehicles on American roads will increase significantly, and a possible lithium shortage as early as 2025 could be avoided thanks to this discovery

Lake Salton is in a region already known for its green energy research. Companies such as Berkshire Hathaway Energy and Controlled Thermal Resources are developing innovative and sustainable lithium mine extraction techniques. The California Energy Commission recognized the potential of this reserve and awarded millions in grants to these companies, focusing on sustainable exploration of the mineral.

Direct lithium extraction technology is an innovative method that separates lithium from other metals present in lake brine, minimizing damage to the environment. This approach not only protects local ecosystems, but also offers a more sustainable path to large-scale production of lithium batteries.

There are other promising battery technologies in development

solid state batteries: They use solid electrolytes instead of liquids, offering more safety and greater energy density. However, large-scale production is still expensive and complex.

Graphene batteries: Known for their incredible resistance and electrical conductivity, they promise shorter recharge times and greater energy storage capacity. However, the cost of graphene is an obstacle to mass production.

Sodium Batteries: A cheaper alternative to lithium as sodium is abundant and easy to access. However, these batteries are still in development and do not offer the same energy density as lithium batteries.

Discovery of Lithium Mine in Lake Salton represents a significant competitive advantage for the United States

Lithium extraction has traditionally been associated with mining practices that cause harm to the environment. However, direct lithium extraction technology promises to be a much more sustainable alternative.

Companies like Controlled Thermal Resources are developing processes that not only extract lithium efficiently but also meet strict environmental standards. This ensures that lithium extraction in Lake Salton does not compromise the region's biodiversity and water resources.

The future of electric vehicles looks promising, especially with discoveries like Lake Salton

However, massive investment in charging infrastructure and battery recycling technologies is needed to ensure long-term sustainability. Global competition will be intense, with countries like China and regions like Europe investing heavily in battery and electric vehicle research and development.

The United States has the opportunity to stand out in this race, but they will need to overcome technical, economic and political challenges to reach this position. The discovery of the lithium mine in Lake Salton is a significant milestone for the United States and the global electric vehicle market. However, it is just one piece of the puzzle.

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