U.S. lithium production

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aznsx

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In the past, I lived in 2 different towns in AR for some years; one only slightly larger than this one, and the other Little Rock, where I went to school for a bit - so I found this interesting of course. There remain old bauxite pits full of green water on the ouskirts of town you might have seen if you've ever flown into L.R., so AR is no stranger to mining minerals / metals (nor is AZ for that matter).

My neice, who still lives in AR sent me this link today.
Keep in mind the source of this information as you read it, as there's just a bit of a slant - maybe just a 'half a bubble off' level.

 

aznsx

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Between the tree huggers and a bloated planet worshipping government it'll be stalled for years.
Oh, there will be lawsuits, etc. - but it'll likely happen. Nothing will stop the EV industry, and there might be some segments fighting with themselves over it! That should be fun to watch:)

I'd like to see us grow our own and buy less from CCP, 'cause we're gonna get it from somewhere. Maybe Australia, as they're mostly pretty friendly blokes, and I know Alcoa gets a lot of its raw materials from there (among many other places). I can just imagine the shipping costs though.
 

Kestrel

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If the numbers from the article are correct (and that is a big assumption - the Daily Mail is certainly a ways down on the ladder), the annual production they are talking about would require about 40,000 acre-feet of water. That is a lot of water.
 
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idleprocess

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This isn't a green solution
There's nothing 'green' about nearly all forms of resource extraction - fuel, metals, minerals, gravel, sand, etc. A cost of living in an industrial society. Idea is to minimize the damage to a point that we don't poison habitats and ourselves in the process.

the annual production they are talking about would require about 40,000 acre-feet of water. That is a lot of water.
The region is about the opposite of a desert however treatment of the water is apt to be necessary to avoid the infamous brine ponds of South America ... whose inefficient processing leaves a huge percentage of the extractable lithium within the remaining effluvia.
 

jtr1962

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My take on this is it goes nowhere. Not because of tree huggers, but rather because sodium ion batteries are just reaching production. That's a good thing. Every country has plenty of salt. Besides, lithium extraction is a very destructive process. Sodium ion batteries will likely replace lithium eventually for all but the most energy dense applications.
 

aznsx

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My take on this is it goes nowhere. Not because of tree huggers, but rather because sodium ion batteries are just reaching production. That's a good thing. Every country has plenty of salt. Besides, lithium extraction is a very destructive process. Sodium ion batteries will likely replace lithium eventually for all but the most energy dense applications.
You're quite possibly right, but I think you're a being a bit forward-thinking in this case. The EV industry will not only "not be stopped", it also will not be delayed further. Consider the rabidly agressive manner in which those promoting the EV mania / agenda are operating. They want to accomplish their agenda yesterday. Yes, they are indeed largely 'putting the cart before the horse', and that bothers them not in the least.
 
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IMA SOL MAN

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You're quite possibly right, but I think you're a being a bit forward-thinking in this case. The EV industry will not only "not be stopped", it also will not be delayed further. Consider the rabidly agressive manner in which those promoting the EV mania / agenda are operating. They want to accomplish their agenda yesterday. Yes, they are indeed largely 'putting the cart before the horse', and that bothers them not in the lease.
I agree. They are "full steam ahead" if you pardon the mixed energy. They want to get as much done as fast as they can before another Republican gets in the White House and puts everything in reverse. Once solidly entrenched, it will be nearly impossible to back out, and that is what "they"are pushing for.
 

jtr1962

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You're quite possibly right, but I think you're a being a bit forward-thinking in this case. The EV industry will not only "not be stopped", it also will not be delayed further. Consider the rabidly agressive manner in which those promoting the EV mania / agenda are operating. They want to accomplish their agenda yesterday. Yes, they are indeed largely 'putting the cart before the horse', and that bothers them not in the lease.
My counterargument to that is that we're simply making up for lots of lost time. Had we started pushing EVs after the first energy crisis in the 1970s, the switch could have been much more gradual. Perhaps 20 or 25 years later, say around 2000, most vehicles on the road would have been electric. Instead, we killed the idea repeatedly until Tesla showed us there is indeed a huge market for EVs. That's when everyone got involved.

I'm not going to gloss over the problems of going this rapidly now, like not enough generating capacity and potential lithium shortages. I just strongly feel technology and the market will address those. Home solar is getting much cheaper. A lot of the generating capacity needed can come from that. Moreover, once the panels are paid for, it's free electricity to the home owner. The payback time now is well under 5 years. That will drive the market for solar. Also, wind is being overlooked. A small wind generator for most homes can pick up some of the slack when solar isn't generating.

EDIT: One more thing to mention which it seems everyone here overlooked, namely micromobility. With the prices of new cars, or even good used ones, through the roof, enough people are questioning the need to even own a conventional vehicle unless their needs dictate it. As idleprocess mentioned elsewhere, there is a huge uptake of e-bikes, e-scooters, etc., even in decidedly unfriendly places for these vehicles like Dallas. In NYC they're ubiquitous. That could help solve both the lithium issues and the power generation issues. Instead of needing to make and recharge a 50 kW-hr EV battery, you can do the same thing with a sub 1 kW-hr e-bike battery. The ranges of some of these are amazing, too. My brother's second e-bike goes over 100 miles on throttle only. Granted, it's a 2.4 kW-hr battery, but a battery that size on a typical EV will be lucky to get you 6 or 7 miles.
I agree. They are "full steam ahead" if you pardon the mixed energy. They want to get as much done as fast as they can before another Republican gets in the White House and puts everything in reverse. Once solidly entrenched, it will be nearly impossible to back out, and that is what "they"are pushing for.
Well, with EVs reaching price parity with ICE vehicles more or less in the very near future, combined with lower operating costs and less maintenance, it'll become entrenched because it's simply a better product for most people, like flat screens instead of CRTs. The range of EVs is now good enough for most trips most people take regularly. For the outliers they can rent a gas car. In a few years even that won't be needed with 600+ mile ranges coming. The tipping point might be when the sub $10K EVs from China come here. For someone needing basic transportation, those will be hard to resist. Once air quality in large cities improves noticeably, that will be another thing bringing us past the point of no return. So will less noise pollution as heavy diesel vehicles go electric. Most people are agnostic as to how their vehicle is powered, so long as it does what they need it to.
 
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aznsx

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My counterargument to that
I have no 'argument' whatsoever, so no counter is appropriate / called-for, but there is endless opinion on the things you refer to in other threads, in which I do not post. I'm not anti-EV. I'm simply personally uninterested, however I do know that it is currently driving cell technology / industry requirements, thus my mention of the lithium supply chain (very specifically).

Not to be short JTR, and your opinions of the past and / future speculation may be spot-on. Most is, however, beyond the scope of my concern I guess. I'm not here to address those things.
 

IMA SOL MAN

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My counterargument to that is that we're simply making up for lots of lost time. Had we started pushing EVs after the first energy crisis in the 1970s, the switch could have been much more gradual. Perhaps 20 or 25 years later, say around 2000, most vehicles on the road would have been electric. Instead, we killed the idea repeatedly until Tesla showed us there is indeed a huge market for EVs. That's when everyone got involved.

There is no way that we could have pushed EV's at the point in time that you speak of. Battery technology was way behind what is needed--we are struggling with that today.
I'm not going to gloss over the problems of going this rapidly now, like not enough generating capacity and potential lithium shortages. I just strongly feel technology and the market will address those. Home solar is getting much cheaper. A lot of the generating capacity needed can come from that. Moreover, once the panels are paid for, it's free electricity to the home owner.
Well, maybe, maybe not. You still have to factor in the life of the panel, and budget money for replacement.
The payback time now is well under 5 years. That will drive the market for solar. Also, wind is being overlooked. A small wind generator for most homes can pick up some of the slack when solar isn't generating.

How small are you talking about? I think you are overlooking a few factors about wind turbines, such as not all areas get enough wind to make them practical, you have to have them up in height sufficient to catch a good breeze, they are noisy, and there are going to be obstructions, physical and legal, to them. Not everyone is going to be able to have them, apartment dwellers, for example. Oh, they might be able to have a fan size one on their balcony, but the energy generated is going to be insignificant overall.
EDIT: One more thing to mention which it seems everyone here overlooked, namely micromobility. With the prices of new cars, or even good used ones, through the roof, enough people are questioning the need to even own a conventional vehicle unless their needs dictate it. As idleprocess mentioned elsewhere, there is a huge uptake of e-bikes, e-scooters, etc., even in decidedly unfriendly places for these vehicles like Dallas. In NYC they're ubiquitous. That could help solve both the lithium issues and the power generation issues. Instead of needing to make and recharge a 50 kW-hr EV battery, you can do the same thing with a sub 1 kW-hr e-bike battery. The ranges of some of these are amazing, too. My brother's second e-bike goes over 100 miles on throttle only. Granted, it's a 2.4 kW-hr battery, but a battery that size on a typical EV will be lucky to get you 6 or 7 miles.
The scenario that you envision likely will not replace automobiles, but instead take people off of public transit, and put them in the street, adding to the current traffic congestion. That will make matters worse. And, these ebikes and escooters are only going to be practical for in city transportation. Out here in fly-over land, they are not really practical outside a city, and they are not legal on the interstate highways, anyway.


Well, with EVs reaching price parity with ICE vehicles more or less in the very near future, combined with lower operating costs and less maintenance, it'll become entrenched because it's simply a better product for most people, like flat screens instead of CRTs. The range of EVs is now good enough for most trips most people take regularly. For the outliers they can rent a gas car. In a few years even that won't be needed with 600+ mile ranges coming. The tipping point might be when the sub $10K EVs from China come here. For someone needing basic transportation, those will be hard to resist.

The USA is trying to end dependancy on China. Do you think the domestic auto makers will allow PRC EV's into the market to cut their throats? Any politician that backed that would be in a lot of trouble with their constituents. Well, it'll probably happen, I think most of them have sold out to China already.
Once air quality in large cities improves noticeably, that will be another thing bringing us past the point of no return. So will less noise pollution as heavy diesel vehicles go electric. Most people are agnostic as to how their vehicle is powered, so long as it does what they need it to.
Just FYI, we little people in the little towns care as little about the big city people as they do about us.
 

idleprocess

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Had we started pushing EVs after the first energy crisis in the 1970s, the switch could have been much more gradual.
While an interesting could've would've should've thought exercise and useful as a cautionary tale, this is otherwise unprovable.

Home solar is getting much cheaper. A lot of the generating capacity needed can come from that.
An issue with solar is that its production peak has begun to fall off once demand peak hits in the early evening. Storage can mitigate this, but I suspect the economics of subsidizing home storage will have some of the same complexities, controversies, and genuine debates about efficacy that we had over rooftop solar; we can watch how that plays out in CA where vanilla rooftop solar now doesn't qualify for full net metering. Grid-scale storage - outside of the big Li* banks whose main function is frequency regulation - will probably need to take the form of something like flow batteries which trade the low weight of Li* chemistry for otherwise better characteristics: cost, longevity, flexibility in deployment.

A small wind generator for most homes can pick up some of the slack when solar isn't generating.
I've not kept up with this market, but when I last looked into it (in an era when solar panels were merely ~$4/watt) the more affordable (read: larger-scale) small wind was in the vicinity of $20/watt, required prohibitive clearances in most localities, could not be attached to structures for reasons of safety and one's personal sanity (the vibrations cause the structure to resonate), require ideal siting to be cost-efficient (i.e. not well-distributed wind intensity, >10m clearance over all obstacles within ~500m) demand a serious commitment to seasonal maintenance, and had a fraction of the operating lifespan of a rooftop solar setup.

As idleprocess mentioned elsewhere, there is a huge uptake of e-bikes, e-scooters, etc., even in decidedly unfriendly places for these vehicles like Dallas.
This looks to be out of desperation as the intense summers makes them highly undesirable nearly 6 months out of the year and the built environment continuously hostile to them. I would also describe usage not so much huge so much as surprising that I see them at all in my burg.
 

orbital

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How much energy would it take per year to produce 100K metric tons of lithium using that process?
I understand it's about battery storage,, but it always comes down to energy.

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Until we can run vehicles off sea water dotdotdotdotdotdotdot

>>>>> idleprocess, I didn't see your last post while I was writing
 

idleprocess

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How much energy would it take per year to produce 100K metric tons of lithium using that process?
I understand it's about battery storage,, but it always comes down to energy.
While this doesn't answer your question, presumably the energy requirements of the operation can be supported through the profitable sale of the resulting industrial commodity at a minimum price below the floor we've seen in recent history.
 

jtr1962

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There is no way that we could have pushed EV's at the point in time that you speak of. Battery technology was way behind what is needed--we are struggling with that today.
If I recall, the idea at the time was to put electrical conductors on highways, basically like full-size slot cars. There would be a small battery to go over dead spots, or roads which might lack the conductors. Nowadays with inductive pickup this idea might be more feasible than ever. My thoughts on it are you have a battery sufficient for maybe 30 or 40 miles range. On longer trips (i.e. mostly highway) every so often you have inductive cables to recharge the battery on the fly. This could in theory give essentially unlimited range.

Batteries become far less of a limiting factor if we streamline vehicles. It's the fact Americans are in love with big, rolling boxes which are causing many of the issues with lithium supplies and the grid.
Well, maybe, maybe not. You still have to factor in the life of the panel, and budget money for replacement.
Of course, but solar panels nowadays can generate 90% of their output when new at 25 years old. Even at 40 years old, they'll still be over 80%. Size the system maybe 25% larger than needed, you're good for at least 50 years.
How small are you talking about? I think you are overlooking a few factors about wind turbines, such as not all areas get enough wind to make them practical, you have to have them up in height sufficient to catch a good breeze, they are noisy, and there are going to be obstructions, physical and legal, to them. Not everyone is going to be able to have them, apartment dwellers, for example. Oh, they might be able to have a fan size one on their balcony, but the energy generated is going to be insignificant overall.
Maybe stuff in the few hundred watt range. As with anything else, they'll only make sense in a location where the wind is blowing a large percentage of the time.
The scenario that you envision likely will not replace automobiles, but instead take people off of public transit, and put them in the street, adding to the current traffic congestion. That will make matters worse. And, these ebikes and escooters are only going to be practical for in city transportation. Out here in fly-over land, they are not really practical outside a city, and they are not legal on the interstate highways, anyway.
It's a numbers game. It's moot if e-bikes or scooters don't work in rural areas. Even if they did, at best you're getting a few hundred thousand cars off the roads in an entire state. On the other hand, in the NY metro region they could potentially remove a few million cars from a place where the roads are congested. These vehicles will of course replace some transit trips, but they can also replace a lot of car trips.
The USA is trying to end dependancy on China. Do you think the domestic auto makers will allow PRC EV's into the market to cut their throats? Any politician that backed that would be in a lot of trouble with their constituents. Well, it'll probably happen, I think most of them have sold out to China already.
The best way to compete with China is to make our version of the stuff they make. Don't want their $10K EVs? Make our own instead. I see lots of cool electronic gadgets on Aliexpress made in China. I have no problems buying them because China saw a niche, and filled it. A US manufacturer easily could have done the same but none of them did. All other things being equal I'd rather buy made in the USA but unfortunately there is nothing similar for much of the stuff I've bought.
Just FYI, we little people in the little towns care as little about the big city people as they do about us.
I think you have a lot of misconceptions. I tend to admire old school small town folks. These are the ones who grow our food, keep our transportation network going, etc. The politicians are the ones trying to divide us. It's a shame so many are receptive to that stuff.
While an interesting could've would've should've thought exercise and useful as a cautionary tale, this is otherwise unprovable.
Sure, but any way you look at it it's a potential missed opportunity. Indeed, a better approach after the 1970s would have been to start reversing the automotive dependency which began ~20 years earlier. If a lot fewer people drive, it matters far less how the vehicles are powered. Unfortunately, we doubled down on automobilia, instead of reversing course back to more walkable, bikeable places to live. Arguably, suburbia/automotive dependency was the single biggest mistake in the history of mankind.
An issue with solar is that its production peak has begun to fall off once demand peak hits in the early evening. Storage can mitigate this, but I suspect the economics of subsidizing home storage will have some of the same complexities, controversies, and genuine debates about efficacy that we had over rooftop solar; we can watch how that plays out in CA where vanilla rooftop solar now doesn't qualify for full net metering. Grid-scale storage - outside of the big Li* banks whose main function is frequency regulation - will probably need to take the form of something like flow batteries which trade the low weight of Li* chemistry for otherwise better characteristics: cost, longevity, flexibility in deployment.
Iron-air batteries have huge potential for this. I think they potentially can be under $20/Kw-hr. 100 kW-hr of storage then would only set you back about $2,000. Their Achilles heel is their low energy density but for stationary applications cost is really the only thing which matters.
I've not kept up with this market, but when I last looked into it (in an era when solar panels were merely ~$4/watt) the more affordable (read: larger-scale) small wind was in the vicinity of $20/watt, required prohibitive clearances in most localities, could not be attached to structures for reasons of safety and one's personal sanity (the vibrations cause the structure to resonate), require ideal siting to be cost-efficient (i.e. not well-distributed wind intensity, >10m clearance over all obstacles within ~500m) demand a serious commitment to seasonal maintenance, and had a fraction of the operating lifespan of a rooftop solar setup.
Now solar is under $1 per watt. It might well be that only huge commercial turbines are viable economically. A lot of it depends upon how much they produce relative to their cost per watt. In my area every watt of solar panels produces about 1 kW-hr of electricity over a year. If you have a place where wind is blowing constantly, a turbine can in theory produce over 8 kW-hrs for every installed watt. Of course, that implies a near ideal location.
This looks to be out of desperation as the intense summers makes them highly undesirable nearly 6 months out of the year and the built environment continuously hostile to them. I would also describe usage not so much huge so much as surprising that I see them at all in my burg.
OK, thanks for clarifying. Yes, I was surprised to hear anyone is using them at all given the heat and generally hostile environment on the streets.
 

turbodog

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... the automotive dependency which began ~20 years earlier. If a lot fewer people drive, it matters far less how the vehicles are powered...

I've just come back from a 2+ week vacation to 2 very walkable cities: montreal canada and telluride colorado and can say no bleeping way is public transit superior to private transportation.

Nastier, smellier, no privacy, no transit capacity, etc.

Lithium production will follow what's always happened... as prices increase, extractable reserves will increase as well.

We didn't leave the stone age because we ran out of stones.
 
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