Battery gigafactories: Inside Tesla’s high volume battery plant
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And Teague Egan, CEO of EnergyX, has suggested Britain’s abundant reserves of the so-called rare earth element, which is a vital component for the batteries fitted in electric cars, put it in an advantageous position compared with the European Union. The US-based company is developing cutting-edge technology to disrupt the lithium industry and provide a more sustainable source of the mineral to advance renewable energy storage and electric vehicles.
Specifically, its Lithium-Ion Transport and Separation Technology (LiTAS) has been developed in partnership with Dr John Goodenough, inventor of the lithium-ion battery, and extracts lithium from brine pools using little to no water or chemicals, reducing environmental impact significantly.
Mr Egan told Express.co.uk: “Lithium has already been compared to the next gold rush. It is already present in most household electronics and is a major component in electric cars and energy storage units.
“When considering how the entire world is currently working towards becoming more sustainable and embracing low-carbon solutions, lithium will have a major role to play in that regard.”
As for the implications for Britain as it makes its way in the world free from EU rules and regulations, Mr Egan said: “The UK has what has been described as globally significant reserves in Cornwall that have garnered quite a bit of interest.
“There are currently plans for the development of new technology in the UK to help with the extraction process as well as provide clean renewable energy in the process.”
Mr Egan said: “Finland is the only European nation currently able to rival the UK in lithium production.
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“Currently most lithium supply chains are dominated by China, while Russia and the United States are also jockeying to find opportunities for lithium extraction, processing and then manufacturing.”
Emphasising the significance, he added: “Lithium is listed as a critical material by the US, and being able to have a domestic source ensures the UK will be able to source high-quality lithium at a low price – it could definitely help with Britain’s post-Brexit economic situation.
“If the UK can better utilise its own lithium reserves then we will be in a far better economic position.”
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Currently there are challenges for lithium mining operations that EnergyX’s technology aims to address, Mr Egan stressed.
He said: “There are several issues with lithium mining in and of itself.
“Hard rock mining can scar the landscape and salt brines use a lot of water and chemicals.
“But we are developing new technology that uses very little water, no chemicals, and doesn’t destroy the environment.”
He added: “On top of that, the technology is far more efficient from a time and money perspective while producing a larger lithium yield than conventional methods.
“However the issues in Cornwall are slightly different – the lithium deposits are found in geothermal deposits, and according to British experts they can harvest the lithium with little to no impact on the environment.”
Speaking to Express.co.uk in August, Jeremy Wrathall, founder and CEO of Cornish Lithium Ltd, likewise claimed the rich seam of the alkali metal could also offer a boost to Brexit Britain.
He said: “Cornwall has the potential to host a large source of lithium, critical for the development of the UK’s green economy.
“This comes at a time when Britain seeks to be a world leader in electric vehicles and the energy transition and it is therefore vital that we seek to develop a secure, domestic source of lithium, in a low carbon and environmentally responsible manner.”
He added: “We have made strong progress at our lithium brine testing facility at United Downs in Cornwall.
“Our work shows that Cornwall hosts globally significant lithium grades and we are currently building a lithium extraction pilot plant, which is being part funded by the UK government’s Getting Building Fund.”
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