Peak Lithium? Fohgeddaboutit

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

Some folks are convinced that EVs are taking over the world. So convinced they are that they are already publicly worried about peak Lithium. Lithium is found in unstable places. An internal Pentagon memo states that Afghanistan could become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” writes the New York Times. Then there are distressing news that countries like Chile, Bolivia and China sit on piles of lithium. Should we be worried? Nein, says a study from Germany.

The Zentrum für Sonnenenergie- und Wasserstoff-Forschung in Germany published a study that says that there is enough known lithium to power 10 billion cars. The world produces around 60m cars a year. If all of them would be EVs (and they won’t), then we have enough lithium for 166 years. And a few cell phones. Currently, most of the lithium is used to make glass or ceramics. Batteries come second. There will be enough lithium to go around, and around , and around.

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13 of 18 comments
  • EChid EChid on Jul 29, 2010

    Umm, famous last words. Everyone thought we would have oil forever too. 166 years isn't that long, in fact its bound to be shorter then oil will last. Not to mention that there is no way of knowing whether we will increase the number of vehicles we produce, or the number of devices it will be used in. It seems like we would be just as reliant on a finite resource (that appears to be even more finite then oil). Human FAIL. In other words, I would take the exact opposite stance on this. Lithium is not a solution, obviously.

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    • RentalCarGuy RentalCarGuy on Jul 30, 2010

      I'm with John here - for the past fifty or sixty years it's been commonly known that oil is a fnite resource and that we would one day run out of it. If I remember correctly, this day was initially supposed to be in the 1980s. So, drawing from that experience, I'd say that resources tend to last longer than we project them to - maybe as a result of technological progress, maybe just due to people being pessimists. Adding that lithium seems to be pretty suitable for recycling, our resources should last for the foreseeable future. Which is not necessarily the case with oil. So, while not necessarily a definitive answer, lithium seems to be the go-to material for the time being.

  • Carlos Villalobos Carlos Villalobos on Jul 29, 2010

    Dear Bertel: Chile is not an unstable place. Far from it. We are sit over a pile of lithium though. Bolivia has bigger reserves, but the socialist goverment do not want foreign investment. Come to Chile, invest here.

    • Wmba Wmba on Jul 29, 2010

      +1 Carlos. I was about to inform the author of exactly the same thing.

  • Carlos Villalobos Carlos Villalobos on Jul 29, 2010

    wmba: Are you from this long and thin string of earth?

  • Oosh Oosh on Jul 29, 2010

    To quote 1996MEdition: 'The sun is about halfway through its 10 billion year life cycle so I guess solar is out too.' Does that mean we've already reached 'Peak Solar'? :)

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    • Shaker Shaker on Jul 30, 2010

      In a billion years, we'll have the technology to redirect water-ice comets to the warming (due to the increased solar output) Mars, making it a viable stepping-stone for humanity while it develops warp drive and huge colony ships to populate new worlds beyond the solar system. Nah. Our hugely evolved cockroaches (the few survivors of AGW of the 21st century) will start blogging about how hot it's been getting.