California Has A Toxic Sea That Could Massively Help Local EV Production

Industry News / 1 Comment

The area contains vast lithium reserves.

2030 is shaping up to be a big year for automakers and their increasingly electrified fleets. By 2030, Nissan will launch 23 new electrified models, and Audi has launched its own 'Vorsprung 2030' electrification strategy. This aligns with President Biden's goal for half of all vehicle sales to be EVs in the US by 2030. Of course, with greater electrification comes a greater need for battery production, and by extension, a need for large-scale lithium mining. The solution could very well be the toxic Salton Sea in California, a 343-square-mile lake with abundant reserves of lithium.

As Automotive News reports, lithium mining at Salton Sea could reduce foreign reliance on battery manufacturing. The lake was originally formed from the flooding of the Colorado River way back in 1905.

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Agricultural runoff and sky-high salt levels have become synonymous with the area since then. The lithium itself is not found in the water but in geothermal deposits. There's so much of it that officials have dubbed the area Lithium Valley. Of course, lithium-ion batteries are widely used in electrified models like the 2022 Lexus NX Hybrid.

"If Joe Biden wants to make batteries in America for the electrification of our vehicle fleets, this is your only shot at scale," said Danny Kennedy in reference to the Salton Sea. Kennedy is the chief energy officer at New Energy Nexus, a nonprofit group promoting clean power.

Currently, most lithium in EV batteries comes from China, Australia, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina. The US could be added to that list with the Salton Sea project.

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Already, General Motors has invested in the area with a startup called Controlled Thermal Resources and the project will generate battery-grade lithium by 2024. At its peak, 600,000 tons of lithium per year could come from the area according to the US Department of Energy. Local lithium mining could also reduce carbon output for American-built EVs.

"If the US electrifies its vehicle fleet with Australian hard-rock mining, putting the rocks on ships in China in order to bake them into batteries, and then ships them across the Pacific to America to make cars here, then it's a carbon problem," said Kennedy.

The Salton Sea project would not only create more jobs and improve EV supply chain issues, but it would also address the environmental issue in the area.

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Source Credits: Automotive News

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