Gallery: Ford and U of M Researchers Say Enough Lithium Exists To Power...


Researchers at the University of Michigan and Ford Motor Company have just released a study stating that there is enough lithium in existence to power electric vehicles at least until the year 2100. The study assessed the global availability of lithium contained in 103 known deposits and compared it to the projected demand for the substance in applications such as lubricating grease, air conditioning, portable electronics batteries, and batteries for hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles. How can the researchers accurately predict demand for lithium that far into the future? We’re not so sure about that part, but as lithium ion batteries are currently the best option for green vehicle batteries we are encouraged to hear that the global supply of lithium is currently estimated at 39 million tons.

The study estimates that even with increasing demand for electric cars over the next century, the total demand for lithium in automotive applications will be just 12-20 million tons–only half of what’s available: “Even with a rapid and widespread adoption of electric vehicles powered by lithium-ion batteries, lithium resources are sufficient to support demand until at least the end of this century,” the study led by Paul Gruber and Pablo Medina concludes. Adds Gruber, “We believe our assessment is a timely and comprehensive study that settles the question of whether the global resources are sufficient for electric vehicles using lithium-ion technology.”


+University of Michigan

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  1. msyin August 11, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    Innovation is not going to stop, nor should it be slowed, just because we have “enough” of something to go around. I would think that we are all becoming much more aware of resources and efficient ways to manage them for our future so that the practices and short sightedness that got us into our current situation will not be repeated. There is also something new on almost a daily basis that is being researched today for our brighter tomorrow.

  2. lazyreader August 10, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    But some previous articles have stated that scientists have found ways to improve the performance of lithium batteries drastically. The goal really would be that lithium will be less necessary in the future. Potassium is far more abundant than lithium and some are experimenting with it for batteries as well as iron-carbon batteries or ultimately no batteries. Some envision Ultra-capacitors to substitute batteries as an electrical storage device or flywheels. All of which consist of materials in far greater abundance than known lithium reserves. So by 2100 we probably wont need it and I’m confident hydrocarbon fuels will still be around by the 22nd century.

  3. caeman August 10, 2011 at 9:37 am

    It is a dangerous thing to depend on a finite resource for your energy needs, yes? Isn’t that the argument against oil? I guess lithium batteries — the current top dog — are to suffer the same fate. What then?

    Hydrogen is in much more greater abundance, with thousands of years of readily available supply.

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