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EV industry must work closer with lithium suppliers, executives say -Breaking

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO – An electric vehicle is charged at an EV charging point on the roadside in London, October 19, 2021. REUTERS/Toby Melville

Ernest Scheyder

(Reuters) – Lithium producers must be contacted by automakers to ensure that they have access to specialized white metals, which can improve the range and performance of electric vehicles. Albemarle (NYSE 🙂 Corp and Livent Corp executives gave statements at Wednesday’s Reuters Next conference.

Automakers plan to make EVs more mainstream by designing models that last longer and are more capable of handling different weather conditions. These EV batteries are typically made from hydroxide, a form of lithium that is not able to be stored long and must therefore be manufactured in customized batches.

It is therefore expensive to produce it, and lithium producers have a hard time doing so unless the automakers agree on long-term deals and share development plans. Eric Norris, Albemarle’s lithium division chief, and Paul Graves, Livent Chief Executive, spoke at Reuters Next.

Norris joined Albemarle as a member in 2018 and stated, “It is very important that (automakers have) the type of relationship that allows for transparency in order not to put them in a position where they don’t have the product they need.”

To continue growing, we need economic growth.

This coordination is essential as the automotive industry might not be able to supply enough lithium to enable EVs to run longer and thus make them less attractive to consumers.

The global lithium demand was 320,000 tonnes last year. The majority of industry experts expect it to reach 1,000,000 tonnes by 2025 or 3,000,000 tonnes by the end the decade.

Graves who runs Livent from the beginning, said that there may be times when lithium is not available in sufficient quantities to fulfill every automaker’s needs. FMC Corp 2018 (NYSE:

“The demand-side of the equation must think carefully about the business plans it has for the next three, or four years.”

NEW TECHNOLOGY

General Motors Co. (NYSE:), Stellantis NV, and other companies signed supply deals this year with start-ups that promise to produce sustainable lithium using geothermal brines from California and Germany. Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Bill Gates, has invested in DLE companies.

DLE technologies are diverse, but each promises a universal approach to extracting the metal from all geological deposits across the globe. That is an attractive prospect for an industry that needs more.

DLE technologies are more costly and require more energy to make lithium than evaporation tanks, which are powered by solar power. DLE is most effective when it can be engineered to work with a particular lithium deposit. This will likely curb interest in the technology.

Norris stated that DLE requires one to be objective when evaluating the claims of being more sustainable. It’s often focusing only on one aspect of sustainability, and not the entire picture.

Graves explained that Livent uses DLE technology in Argentina and evaporation pools. This is a tailored-made method that can work at the operation, but not elsewhere.

He said that there is a chance that a breakthrough in technology will suddenly allow all the lithium to be released at an incredibly low price into the world. But the laws of chemistry, physics and engineering don’t allow for such a change.

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