Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Lithium: Attention Hummer And Tesla Converters: There Isn't Enough Lithium Produced For Both You And The Rest Of Us TNR.v, SQM, TTM, BYD, WLC.v, CLQ.v

Interesting observation on Lithium shortage according to the author of the following article. Our Juniors will be busy to provide deposits for the Next Big Thing to happen.

"April 20, 2009
Analysis by: Jack Lifton
Analysis of: Hybrid Hummer Promises 100 Miles per Gallon
Published at: blog.wired.com
The celebration of the creation of sophomoric toys for elites with public money ignores the fact that the supply and demand of lithium is a zero sum game. When the demand for high end toys for people with unlimited discretionary spending ability is high the demand for practical devices for the person of average means will go unfilled. Each 53 kWh battery for a Hummer, for example, will, if a lithium-ion type, use 53 kg, or 116 lb of lithium; it will cost as much as $53,000 at retail just for this battery!
This article says that an internal combustion engine using GM Hummer fitted as a hybrid with a 53 kWh lithium-ion battery weighing nearly 1/2 ton will deliver performance in range, speed, and acceleration like the same Hummer fitted only with a large V8 gasoline fueled internal combustion engine but give the overall equivalent of 100 miles per gallon of fuel consumed.Let's look at some of the cost figures associated with this "conversion." 1. A 53 kWh lithium-ion battery today will cost 1000.00 per kWh to buy,2. The 53 kWh lithium-ion battery will require 53 kg, 116 lb of lithium to construct, and3. The 53 kWh battery will weight nearly 1000 lbs.In 2008 there were 27,600 metric tons of lithium mined in the world. Of this total 25% was consumed in the production of rechargeable batteries for personal electronics, portable computers, and power tools. The USGS figures for 2008 indicate that there may have been a surplus of lithium of as much as 5000 metric tons from the 2008 production. Let's assume that this is true.Let's also assume that the Tesla automobile uses about the same size battery, although in fact it uses a smaller battery of only some 43 kWh capacity.This means that if there were indeed a surplus of 5000 metric tons enough lithium was available from the 2008 production to make a grand total of 100,000 Hummers and Teslas and not any other battery powered car whatsoever. Each Tesla or Hummer would require the use of enough lithium to make 3 Chevrolet Volts, so if we made no Hummers or Teslas we could make 300,000 Chevrolet Volts from the surplus. Last year there were produced around 65,000,000 cars and trucks altogether globally. The highest number of lectrified cars using lithium ion batteries that could have been made would have been 1/2 of 1 percent of them if the surplus of 5000 tons is an accurate figure.Now let's look at what would be the case if there were no surplus of lithium in 2008, If demand equaled supply. In that case lithium-ion battery cars could only be built with new incremental production, and since there is steady growth in the existing categories of uses for lithium the car battery production would have to be at the expense of the use in an existing category. The solution to this problem of course would be to increase lithium production, but this is a slow process of first meeting regulatory requirements and then making investments of time and money to develop mines and separation and refining facilities while building battery factories and hiring and training workers in order to wait for raw material flows to start. Simultaneously automotive supply and assembly plants would have to be built and staffed so the bodies could be ready once the power trains were available.This is a huge and international type of cooperation that has never before been accomplished in a fluid competitive atmosphere of proprietary technologies and processes.In any case let's assume that all of this can be done and that lithium production can be doubled in the next 10 years. We will now have 20,000 metric tons a year of lithium available for batteries, and we could build 1,250,000 Chevrolet Volts or 400,000 Hummers and Teslas altogether in 2019.It is projected now that the global production of personal size motor vehicles for 2019 will be between 125 and 150 million units. Lithium mining production optimistically can produce only enough material in 2019 to make a maximum of 3/4 of 1% of that total as electrified Chevrolet Volt size and performance cars, or 1/4 of 1% of that total as high performance Hummer or Tesla size and type vehicles.Is there any doubt that in 2019 electrified cars using lithium-ion batteries will only be for the very few and/or the very privileged?If so, what is the point of wasting public money to develop them?"
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