Could Lithium Be The New Pollutant?

May 28, 2009 / No Comments

More and more new-generation vehicles are using lithium batteries in an effort to cut down pollution levels, but could it be true that lithium batteries are as damaging to the environment as gasoline?

energizer lithium battery Could Lithium Be The New Pollutant?

Yes, according to some experts on energy!

William Tahil, research director of Meridian International Research, an independent consultancy specializing in renewable energy, is not all that happy with lithium.

In his research paper titled The Trouble with Lithium (pdf link), William Tahil says that “lithium-ion batteries are rapidly becoming the technology of choice for the next generation of electric vehicles. To achieve the required cuts in oil consumption, a significant percentage of the world’s automobile fleet of 1 billion vehicles will be electrified in the next decade.”

And considering that depletion rates of lithium would exceed current rates of oil depletion, it will mean that we’re switching dependency from one diminishing resource to another.

Lithium is generally mined from rock, but it is also found in deposits in brine ponds. Also, lithium comes mostly from one region– the Andes mountains of Chile, Argentina and Bolivia, but there are some deposits in China, too. But such a lithium supply concentration may also lead to new geopolitical tensions, instead of reducing them.

So is there a reason to chase the “lithium revolution” if the chances to work out are somehow limited? Definitely, but it’s all about balancing what we have.

Image courtesy of monstershaq