Category: Lithium

Visualized: Battery Vs. Hydrogen Fuel Cell


This post is by Marcus Lu from Visual Capitalist


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Battery Electric Vs. Hydrogen Fuel Cell

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Since the introduction of the Nissan Leaf (2010) and Tesla Model S (2012), battery-powered electric vehicles (BEVs) have become the primary focus of the automotive industry.

This structural shift is moving at an incredible rate—in China, 3 million BEVs were sold in 2021, up from 1 million the previous year. Meanwhile, in the U.S., the number of models available for sale is expected to double by 2024.

In order to meet global climate targets, however, the International Energy Agency claims that the auto industry will require 30 times more minerals per year. Many fear that this could put a strain on supply.

“The data shows a looming mismatch between the world’s strengthened climate ambitions and the availability of critical minerals.”
– Fatih Birol, IEA

Thankfully, BEVs are not the only solution for decarbonizing transportation. In this infographic, we explain how the fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) works.

How Does Hydrogen Fuel Cell Work?

FCEVs are a type of electric vehicle that produces no emissions (aside from the environmental cost of production). The main difference is that BEVs contain a large battery to store electricity, while FCEVs create their own electricity by using a hydrogen fuel cell.

Major BEV ComponentsMajor FCEV Components
BatteryBattery
Onboard chargerHydrogen fuel tank
Electric motorFuel cell stack
Electric motor
Exhaust

Let’s go over the functions of the major FCEV components.

Battery

First is the lithium-ion battery, which stores electricity to power the electric motor. In an FCEV, the battery is smaller because it’s not the primary power source. For general context, the Model S Plaid contains 7,920 lithium-ion cells, while the Toyota Mirai FCEV contains 330.

Hydrogen Fuel Tank

FCEVs have a fuel tank that stores hydrogen in its gas form. Liquid hydrogen can’t be used because it requires cryogenic temperatures (−150°C or −238°F). Hydrogen gas, along with oxygen, are the two inputs for the hydrogen fuel cell.

Fuel Cell Stack and Motor

The fuel cell uses hydrogen gas to generate electricity. To explain the process in layman’s terms, hydrogen gas passes through the cell and is split into protons (H+) and electrons (e-).

Protons pass through the electrolyte, which is a liquid or gel material. Electrons are unable to pass through the electrolyte, so they take an external path instead. This creates an electrical current to power the motor.

Exhaust

At the end of the fuel cell’s process, the electrons and protons meet together and combine with oxygen. This causes a chemical reaction that produces water (H2O), which is then emitted out of the exhaust pipe.

Which Technology is Winning?

As you can see from the table below, most automakers have shifted their focus towards BEVs. Notably missing from the BEV group is Toyota, the world’s largest automaker.

FCEVs struggling to build momentum

Hydrogen fuel cells have drawn criticism from notable figures in the industry, including Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess.

Green hydrogen is needed for steel, chemical, aero,… and should not end up in cars. Far too expensive, inefficient, slow and difficult to rollout and transport.
– Herbert Diess, CEO, Volkswagen Group

Toyota and Hyundai are on the opposing side, as both companies continue to invest in fuel cell development. The difference between them, however, is that Hyundai (and sister brand Kia) has still released several BEVs.

This is a surprising blunder for Toyota, which pioneered hybrid vehicles like the Prius. It’s reasonable to think that after this success, BEVs would be a natural next step. As Wired reports, Toyota placed all of its chips on hydrogen development, ignoring the fact that most of the industry was moving a different way. Realizing its mistake, and needing to buy time, the company has resorted to lobbying against the adoption of EVs.

Confronted with a losing hand, Toyota is doing what most large corporations do when they find themselves playing the wrong game—it’s fighting to change the game.
– Wired

Toyota is expected to release its first BEV, the bZ4X crossover, for the 2023 model year—over a decade since Tesla launched the Model S.

Challenges to Fuel Cell Adoption

Several challenges are standing in the way of widespread FCEV adoption.

One is performance, though the difference is minor. In terms of maximum range, the best FCEV (Toyota Mirai) was EPA-rated for 402 miles, while the best BEV (Lucid Air) received 505 miles.

Two greater issues are 1) hydrogen’s efficiency problem, and 2) a very limited number of refueling stations. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, there are just 48 hydrogen stations across the entire country. 47 are located in California, and 1 is located in Hawaii.

On the contrary, BEVs have 49,210 charging stations nationwide, and can also be charged at home. This number is sure to grow, as the Biden administration has allocated $5 billion for states to expand their charging networks.

The post Visualized: Battery Vs. Hydrogen Fuel Cell appeared first on Visual Capitalist.

Breaking Down the Cost of an EV Battery Cell


This post is by Govind Bhutada from Visual Capitalist


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The cost of a lithium-ion battery cell

Breaking Down the Cost of an EV Battery Cell

This was originally posted on Elements. Sign up to the free mailing list to get beautiful visualizations on natural resource megatrends in your email every week.

As electric vehicle (EV) battery prices keep dropping, the global supply of EVs and demand for their batteries are ramping up.

Since 2010, the average price of a lithium-ion (Li-ion) EV battery pack has fallen from $1,200 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to just $132/kWh in 2021.

Inside each EV battery pack are multiple interconnected modules made up of tens to hundreds of rechargeable Li-ion cells. Collectively, these cells make up roughly 77% of the total cost of an average battery pack, or about $101/kWh.

So, what drives the cost of these individual battery cells?

The Cost of a Battery Cell

According to data from BloombergNEF, the cost of each cell’s cathode adds up to more than half of the overall cell cost.

EV Battery Cell Component% of Cell Cost
Cathode51%
Manufacturing and depreciation24%
Anode12%
Separator7%
Electrolyte4%
Housing and other materials3%

Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding.

Why Are Cathodes so Expensive?

The cathode is the positively charged electrode of the battery. When a battery is discharged, both electrons and positively-charged molecules (the eponymous lithium ions) flow from the anode to the cathode, which stores both until the battery is charged again.

That means (Read more...)

Charted: Lithium Production by Country (1995-2020)



The following content is sponsored by Scotch Creek Ventures.

Global lithium production by country

Charted: Lithium Production by Country

Lithium is often dubbed as “white gold” for the development of electric vehicles.

With several countries committed to phasing out new gasoline and diesel engine vehicles by 2040, the recent growth in electric vehicle (EV) adoption has fueled a global boom in lithium production.

For that reason, lithium production more than doubled between 2016 and 2020, up from 40,000 tonnes to 86,300 tonnes.

The above infographic from our sponsor Scotch Creek Ventures charts 25 years of lithium production by country from 1995 to 2020.

A Brief History of Lithium Mining

Countries began producing significant amounts of lithium after World War II, with annual production averaging 5,000 tonnes between 1955 and 1980.

The U.S. was by far the largest lithium producer until 1995, followed by Zimbabwe and Australia. From 1995 to 2010, Chile took over as the dominant producer with a lithium mining boom in the Salar de Atacama, the country’s largest salt flat.

Lithium production grew steadily between 1995 and 2010, up from 9,500 tonnes to 28,000 tonnes. But the advent of rechargeable batteries and electric vehicles brought in a new wave of demand, fueling an exponential production surge.

The Largest Lithium Producing Countries

Today, three countries—Australia, Chile, and China—mine roughly 86% of the world’s lithium.

Country2020 Lithium Production* (tonnes)% of World Total
Australia ??40,00046.3%
Chile ??20,60023.9%
China ??14,00016.2%
Argentina ??6,2007.2%
Brazil ??1,9002.2%
Zimbabwe ??1,2001.4%
(Read more...)

Visualizing China’s Dominance in Clean Energy Metals


This post is by Bruno Venditti from Visual Capitalist


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Visualizing China’s Dominance in Clean Energy Metals

Visualizing China’s Dominance in Clean Energy Metals

This was originally posted on Elements. Sign up to the free mailing list to get beautiful visualizations on natural resource megatrends in your email every week.

Renewable sources of energy are expected to replace fossil fuels over the coming decades, and this large-scale transition will have a downstream effect on the demand of raw materials. More green energy means more wind turbines, solar panels, and batteries needed, and more clean energy metals necessary to build these technologies.

This visualization, based on data from the International Energy Agency (IEA), illustrates where the extraction and processing of key metals for the green revolution take place.

It shows that despite being the world’s biggest carbon polluter, China is also the largest producer of most of the world’s critical minerals for the green revolution.

Where Clean Energy Metals are Produced

China produces 60% of all rare earth elements used as components in high technology devices, including smartphones and computers.

The country also has a 13% share of the lithium production market, which is still dominated by Australia (52%) and Chile (22%). The highly reactive element is key to producing rechargeable batteries for mobile phones, laptops, and electric vehicles.

China's ShareExtractionProcessing
Copper8%40%
Nickel5%35%
Cobalt1.5%65%
Rare Earths60%87%
Lithium13%58%

But even more than extraction, China is the dominant economy when it comes to processing operations. (Read more...)

Visualizing America’s Electric Vehicle Future



The following content is sponsored by Talon Metals and Li-Cycle

Visualizing America’s Electric Vehicle Future

The U.S. is accelerating its transition to electric vehicles (EV) to address climate change. However, obtaining the minerals and metals required for EV batteries remains a challenge.

In this infographic from Talon Metals and Li-Cycle, we explore the country’s strategy to have vehicles, batteries, and key parts be made in the United States.

Then, we look at how this strategy could be fueled by domestic mining and battery recycling.

The All-Electric America

Gasoline-powered cars are one of the biggest sources of carbon pollution driving the climate crisis. As a result, the Biden Administration has set a target for EVs to make up 50% of all new car sales in the U.S. by 2030. Today, fewer than 1% of the country’s 250 million vehicles are electric.

In November 2021, Congress passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal, which includes:

  • Replacing the government’s 650,000 vehicle motor pool with EVs.
  • Electrifying 20% of the country’s 500,000 school buses.
  • Investing $7.5 billion to build out a network of 500,000 electric vehicle chargers across the country.

The idea also has popular support. According to a poll, 55% of voters in the U.S. support requiring all new cars sold in their state to be electric starting in 2030.

However, rising EV sales are already driving demand for battery metals such as nickel, lithium, and copper, threatening to trigger a shortage of these key raw materials. So, does the U.S. have the (Read more...)

Visualizing the Global Electric Vehicle Market



The following content is sponsored by Scotch Creek Ventures.

Electric vehicle market

Visualizing the Global Electric Vehicle Market

Electric vehicles (EVs) are a key piece of the net-zero carbon future puzzle, and the electric vehicle market is growing exponentially.

Countries and governments around the world are recognizing the importance of these zero-emission vehicles and consequently including them in their decarbonization plans. But some countries are far ahead in the EV race, while others are yet to fully embrace EV adoption.

This infographic from our sponsor Scotch Creek Ventures provides an overview of the global EV market and the potential for growth in the United States.

The World’s Largest EV Markets

In 2020, global EV and plug-in hybrid sales crossed the 3 million mark for the first time, and data from the first half of 2021 suggests that we may be in for another year of record-high sales.

Europe and China have been the leading EV markets in both years, with over 80% of plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicle (BEV) sales occurring in these two regions.

Country/Region2020 sales2020 H1 sales
Europe ??1,390,0001,060,000
China ??1,330,0001,149,000
U.S. ??328,000297,000
Rest of the World ?180,000147,000
Total3,228,0002,653,000

Although country populations are the driver of absolute sales potential, government incentives have played a key role in expanding EV adoption in the interim. For example, several European countries offer tax benefits for purchasing and owning EVs, in addition to incentives like road toll exemptions. Similarly, China’s EV subsidies reimburse buyers different (Read more...)

Visualizing the Global Demand for Lithium



The following content is sponsored by Scotch Creek Ventures.

Visualizing the Global Demand for Lithium

Visualizing Global Demand for Lithium

Lithium is one of the most in-demand commodities in the world today.

With the ongoing shift to electric vehicles (EVs) and clean energy technologies, governments and EV manufacturers are rushing to secure their supply chains as demand for lithium soars.

But while China has a strong foothold in the lithium race, the U.S. is lagging behind. This infographic from our sponsor Scotch Creek Ventures highlights the rising demand for lithium and the need for a domestic supply chain in the United States.

What’s Driving the Demand for Lithium?

Global lithium production more than doubled in the last four years to 82,000 metric tons in 2020, up from 38,000 metric tons in 2016. Here are some of the factors driving the lithium rush:

  1. More EVs on the Road:
    EV sales have been accelerating in recent years. Between 2016 and 2020, annual electric car sales increased by 297%, up from around 750,000 to nearly 2.9 million cars last year.
  2. Falling Battery Prices:
    Declining lithium-ion battery prices are allowing EVs to compete more aggressively with gas-powered cars. Since 2013, battery costs have fallen 80% with a volume-weighted average of $137/kWh in 2020.
  3. Rise of the Battery Megafactories:
    More battery manufacturing capacity means more demand for the critical minerals that go into batteries. As of March 2021, there were 200 battery megafactories in the pipeline to 2030, and 122 of those were already operational. According to Benchmark Mineral (Read more...)

The Battle of Thacker Pass


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


person holding white ceramic sink
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

The EVs — electric vehicles are everywhere. More SPACs are touting their fantastic future where they sell millions of vehicles. Elon Musk is the wealthiest guy in the world. Everything is so lit, except no one wants to talk about the elephant in the room — rare earth metals and the pollution that comes with mining them. And nothing is more precious for this new EV future than Lithium — the stuff at the heart of our connected future.

It is why the US needs to figure out how to control its rare-earth destiny and become less reliant on overseas suppliers and processors — read China. And that’s why every eye has been on the Thacker Pass Mine, a Lithium mine in Nevada. The mine can generate over 66,000 tons of Lithium a year for about 40 decades, the company behind the mine brags. But it will come at a substantial environmental cost. And that has got a wide variety of people up-in-arms.

Maddie Stone, writing for Grist, outlines the legal, social, and climate challenges against the Thacker Pass Mine in her deeply reported story, The Battle of Thacker Pass. I hope you read it.