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Forget peak oil! Worry about peak lithium!
Smart Grid News ^ | Aug 31, 2012 | Jesse Berst

Posted on 09/01/2012 4:19:40 PM PDT by djf

The Peak Energy blog has just reported on the purchase of an Australian lithium mine by a U.S. group as evidence of the skyrocketing demand for the silver-white metal used in a variety of batteries.

The story of the Australian-based Talison Lithium company is interesting, but the eye-opener is at the bottom of the story. A graph illustrates that demand for lithium has been growing 20% per year since 2000 – and that the real growth will kick in starting in 2015.

Here at SGN, we've been carefully monitoring the progress of electric vehicles and grid-scale storage and related topics ranging from China's drastic reductions in lithium exports to DOE's attempts to find a workaround for the rare earths shortage, as well as the ups and downs of the EV battery industry. But the future of energy storage may depend on whether or not we're already nearing the peak of available lithium, or whether we can find new supplies.

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Jesse Berst is the founder and chief analyst of Smart Grid News.com, the industry's oldest and largest smart grid site. A frequent keynoter at industry events in the U.S. and abroad, he also serves on advisory committees for Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Institute for Electric Efficiency. He often provides strategic consulting to large corporations and venture-backed startups. He is a member of the advisory boards of GridGlo and Calico Energy Services.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS:

1 posted on 09/01/2012 4:19:45 PM PDT by djf
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To: djf

2 posted on 09/01/2012 4:26:10 PM PDT by djf (The barbarian hordes will ALWAYS outnumber the clean-shaven. And they vote.)
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To: djf

I recently attended a presentation from a man who was promoting some investors for his company which is developing lithium batteries for the racing industry and the subject about lithium mining came up. He said that China now controls most of the world supply.


3 posted on 09/01/2012 4:35:12 PM PDT by Okieshooter
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To: djf
Nonsense! Nonsense and complete balderdash!

The notion of “peak lithium” will eventually have been shown to be as wrong-headed as every other claim of depleted resources. The reason — technological change, substitution, and other adaptive measures. The only way we will suffer from “peak lithium, will be if government decides to “do something about it”. Government interference would ensure a crisis, just as every other central-planning “solution” throughout history has done.

Substitution, and alternative technologies are particularly likely in the case of stationary applications — such as storage for a smart grid. Just let the marketplace, and the price system work their wonders.

4 posted on 09/01/2012 4:37:35 PM PDT by USFRIENDINVICTORIA
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To: USFRIENDINVICTORIA

I’m more worried about Peak Valium.
Imagine if there were a shortage!


5 posted on 09/01/2012 4:42:25 PM PDT by tet68 ( " We would not die in that man's company, that fears his fellowship to die with us...." Henry V.)
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To: tet68

Never mind that, worry about Peak Chocolate.


6 posted on 09/01/2012 4:43:11 PM PDT by dfwgator (I'm voting for Ryan and that other guy.)
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To: USFRIENDINVICTORIA

http://news.stanford.edu/news/2012/june/ultrafast-edison-battery-062612.html ~ NICKEL IRON BATTERY ~ NEW FASTS CHEAPER BETTER WAY TO GO


7 posted on 09/01/2012 4:44:30 PM PDT by muawiyah
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To: USFRIENDINVICTORIA

http://news.stanford.edu/news/2012/june/ultrafast-edison-battery-062612.html ~ NICKEL IRON BATTERY ~ NEW FASTS CHEAPER BETTER WAY TO GO


8 posted on 09/01/2012 4:44:36 PM PDT by muawiyah
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To: USFRIENDINVICTORIA

Well, it was left to the marketplace... and the market discovered and created lithium batteries, which are a highly effective form of energy storage.

And your pleas about “leave it to the market” are ignoring that fact.

The market worked. The market spoke. And we need lithium to do what the market found out.

Yes, there might be a better solution. But it might take years to discover and bring online some new technology.


9 posted on 09/01/2012 4:45:38 PM PDT by djf (The barbarian hordes will ALWAYS outnumber the clean-shaven. And they vote.)
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To: djf
I got some dilithium crystal futures to sell!
10 posted on 09/01/2012 4:48:04 PM PDT by Reily
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To: djf

Oh, there is plenty of lithium. But most all of the lithium manganese dioxide is in China. Its been the flaw of this battery nonsense since day one.


11 posted on 09/01/2012 4:49:14 PM PDT by anton
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To: muawiyah

Thanks. Interesting. Not sure how practical, but interesting nonetheless.


12 posted on 09/01/2012 4:50:46 PM PDT by djf (The barbarian hordes will ALWAYS outnumber the clean-shaven. And they vote.)
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To: AdmSmith; AnonymousConservative; Berosus; bigheadfred; Bockscar; ColdOne; Convert from ECUSA; ...

With the Peak Oil folks around, we definitely don’t wanna run out of lithium.

Thanks djf.


13 posted on 09/01/2012 4:50:51 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: djf

The basic change in these new nickel-iron batteries is the way they are manufactured ~ on the micro-scale. The manufacturing technique is probably the way we are going to go in all sorts of things ~ and ideas that didn’t seem so productive earlier are going to look fantastic.


14 posted on 09/01/2012 4:58:19 PM PDT by muawiyah
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To: anton

Chile is sitting on the largest deposit of lithium in the world, by far. And Bolivia has the second largest. If Push came to shove we can extract it from sea water.


15 posted on 09/01/2012 5:07:42 PM PDT by aft_lizard
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To: djf; muawiyah

Check out post # 7.


16 posted on 09/01/2012 5:17:59 PM PDT by USFRIENDINVICTORIA
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To: muawiyah

That battery might work in my basement for stationary power instead of lead acid batteries. But no way is it a substitute for lithium, it weighs too much and has less energy density according to the article.


17 posted on 09/01/2012 5:25:55 PM PDT by palmer (Jim, please bill me 50 cents for this completely useless post)
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To: Okieshooter

I don’t beleive that.

There is reportedly a huge volume which is beginning to be mined in the Atacoma, just north east of Antofagasta, Chile. The capitalistic Chileans would hardly hand it over to the Chinese.


18 posted on 09/01/2012 5:28:07 PM PDT by X-spurt (It is truly time for ON YOUR FEET or on your knees)
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To: djf

Extract the lithium you need from sea water.

And how, you ask?

The simple way is to just let big, shallow ponds fill with sea water, and let the water evaporate off. The salts remaining are a vast combination of chlorides, sulfates, carbonates, and silicates, which include, among other things, quite a bit of sodium, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and yes, lithium. All you must do is separate it out.

This may be done by fractional crystallization. Different ions both dissolve and crystallize at different rates, and this phenomenon may be observed by using a piece of filter paper. The filter paper is satuated by letting a minute amount of the brine per time period drip on one point, which then diffuses through the paper medium. The most easily dissolved remains on the leading edge of the diffusion, while the more slowly dissolved remains close to the point of infusion. These leave distinct striations on the filter paper medium, and may be cut apart with a pair of scissors.

Now obviously, this is a rather slow and tedious method, not really scalable for industrial purposes. But the principle could be applied to using large mats with discrete separations, and controlled rate of infusion. When the desired point is reached, the separate but adjacent mats are taken up, and the one with the desired metallic ion is then further treated to extract the now purified compound.

Essentially, this was how the once huge potassium chloride deposits at the shores of the Great Salt Lake in Utah were formed over the eons, as the original Lake Bonneville dried down from the trapped waters of what was once an arm of the Pacific Ocean. But those beds have been mined for the better part of a century, now, and the potassium has long been shipped away to become fertilizer, gunpowder, and other important industrial chemicals. We may be running low on this very necessary element, and it may be time to start mining the ocean for it.

The fast way is to speed up evaporation, not merely depending on the solar radiation falling on shallow ponds. I propose utilizing nuclear energy to generate the heat necessary to evaporate down huge quantities of water, and either collecting the water vapor as condensate to supply huge new amounts of fresh and potable water, essentially free of contaminants, or to let it simply provide a local boost in the relative humidity of the locality. If the local humidity is high enough, snowfall or rainfall is encouraged, and we can truly change the climate, but only on a micro scale.

Of course, with the water evaporated off, the dissolved solids that were in the sea water become a very concentrated brine, which may then be treated in any of several ways. Dried down until it is desiccated, the crystals will be in distinct striations, and may be physically separated by practical means. Or the concentrated brine may be subjected to electrolysis, freeing the anions at the anode, and attracting the metallic ions to the cathode, where they are reduced to metallic elements.

As anybody who has ever done the experiment in high school chemistry knows, the very active metallic elements (lithium, sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium), react with varying degrees of speed upon exposure to water, generating free hydrogen and considerable heat. So once the elemental metal is formed at the cathode, it must be immediately whisked away before it proceeds with the back-reaction (which generates free hydrogen), but this is an engineering problem, not an impossibility.

Another approach is to heat up the salt mixture until it is molten, THEN proceed with electrolysis. The complication with water is then eliminated, but the necessarily very high temperatures bring its own set of engineering problems, probably involving some high-temperature ceramic containment vessels.

We have not yet begun to do more than scratch the surface for the potential wealth this planet may still yield. Trying to make fusion energy practical is just a little too far in the future for that approach to be of much significance yet, but but we do have the means to harness and apply the processes we already know about right now.


19 posted on 09/01/2012 5:36:31 PM PDT by alloysteel (Are you better off than you were four years ago? Well, are you?)
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To: djf

Lithium is abundant on the planet. Most often it is extracted from salt flats and dried up lake beds. There are plenty of these in Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, and the American West for starters.

This sounds like a pump and dump promotional for a penny stock.

The demand for lithium may be growing at 20 percent a year but what is the price doing? I noticed that that is not mentioned.


20 posted on 09/01/2012 5:42:12 PM PDT by Uncle Lonny
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To: palmer

Do the computation by volume ~ your nickel iron battery will be far lighter than older nickel iron batteries.


21 posted on 09/01/2012 5:44:34 PM PDT by muawiyah
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To: djf

I don’t need an electric car, but I do need my LI powered cordless tools. Ban EV’s now!


22 posted on 09/01/2012 5:44:51 PM PDT by umgud (No Rats, No Rino's)
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To: djf

There is more lithium on the planet than anyone knows what to do with. The only shortage is of lithium mines.


23 posted on 09/01/2012 6:11:25 PM PDT by fso301
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To: djf

The problem with lithium is not that it is rare, but that it rarely concentrates, and is fairly evenly distributed. For example seawater is estimated to contain some 230 billion tons of lithium.


24 posted on 09/01/2012 6:33:10 PM PDT by yefragetuwrabrumuy
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To: djf
...it might take years to discover and bring online some new technology.

Best to get started right away then...

But I'll betcha my entire stock of double-a's somebody has been on that for a while already. It's not like these R&D shops discover some new technology and then go home and do crossword puzzles until OMG PEAK WHATEVER!!!

25 posted on 09/01/2012 6:43:51 PM PDT by ExGeeEye (Wait a minute! Romney doesn't suck? I'm trying to keep up.)
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To: USFRIENDINVICTORIA
The notion of “peak lithium” will eventually have been shown to be as wrong-headed as every other claim of depleted resources. The reason — technological change, substitution, and other adaptive measures.

Maybe so, but if I'm the guy who's got to let his electric car sit idle for a few years while the new tech comes online, I'm *NOT* going to be a happy camper! :O

26 posted on 09/01/2012 6:48:47 PM PDT by The Duke
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To: The Duke

It might be worse. It might be that the current cars couldn’t even run on the new things. Or cell phones. Or laptops. That’s alot of full dumpsters.

Me, personally, I HATE wasting stuff. If it still has good life/use in it, I try to keep it going. Got a couple laptops running WIN/ME that I use only for older games, etc. Work just fine.


27 posted on 09/01/2012 7:07:26 PM PDT by djf (The barbarian hordes will ALWAYS outnumber the clean-shaven. And they vote.)
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To: aft_lizard

Well, that’s just great. When they figure out how to make a lithium ion battery without lithium manganese dioxide, 97% of which is in China, then Chile will be in the driver’s seat. (rolls eyes) BTW, Nevada has quite a lot of lithium also.


28 posted on 09/01/2012 7:41:44 PM PDT by anton
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To: The Duke
That's not gonna happen!
29 posted on 09/01/2012 10:11:53 PM PDT by USFRIENDINVICTORIA
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To: The Duke
Study says cost of lithium ion batteries could drop by two-thirds

http://www.digitaltrends.com/cars/study-says-cost-of-lithium-ion-batteries-could-drop-by-two-thirds/

"According to the study, published by McKinsey Research, the price of a “complete automotive lithium ion battery pack” could drop from the current price of $500 to $600 per kilowatt hour to $200 per kWh by 2020."
30 posted on 09/01/2012 10:21:50 PM PDT by USFRIENDINVICTORIA
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To: anton

Well for one there is many different compounds for batteries than just lithium manganese, secondly since lithium exists as a mineral in nature it is relatively easy to process into different salts and compounds and to purify. You make it sound as if the Chinese have pre-made lithium manganese oxide just oozing from the ground without the need of processing. Well I hate to burst your bubble, thats not how they do it. They extract the lithium from lithium carbonate deposits and then create the compounds for Li-ion batteries from that.


31 posted on 09/02/2012 6:37:55 AM PDT by aft_lizard
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To: Reily

-——I got some dilithium crystal futures to sell!-——

I’ll take a hundred thousand shares. I’ll send you a check on my Gold Pressed Latinum account.


32 posted on 09/02/2012 6:41:56 AM PDT by bert ((K.E. N.P. N.C. +12 ..... Present failure and impending death yield irrational action))
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To: aft_lizard

You need to read up on this. You do know that manganese is an element, not a process, right? And that lithium manganese dioxide is a mineral not the result of processing lithium. If your contention is that lithium deposits can be commercially synthesized into lithium manganese dioxide, you are just wrong.


33 posted on 09/02/2012 6:51:53 AM PDT by anton
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To: anton

Ooops! I mean Manganese is a mineral. There is plenty of lithium everywhere. Manganese is required to make a lithium ion battery as in the Leaf, etc. You can’t process lithium into a battery without China controlling the minerals.


34 posted on 09/02/2012 7:01:55 AM PDT by anton
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To: USFRIENDINVICTORIA

GLORIFIED_GOLF_CART_PING!


35 posted on 09/02/2012 9:21:21 AM PDT by The Duke
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To: anton

I have read up on this. I think you need to because the bulk of Chinese deposits are lithium carbonate. Lithium Manganese Dioxide is easily created by adding lithium to Manganese Dioxide. Lithium Manganese Dioxide does not occur in nature that often. However the Chinese do control MgO2, but like I said there are literally dozens of different Lithium Ion battery technologies, its just that LiMgO2 is the easiest to implement which is why we see it in most smaller batteries.


36 posted on 09/02/2012 11:19:05 AM PDT by aft_lizard
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To: aft_lizard

I have to agree that predicting peak anything for the future based on today’s technology is a losing bet. But, one could not power a Leaf today without MnO2.


37 posted on 09/02/2012 12:20:22 PM PDT by anton
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To: djf
Scarcity makes people hostile.

Practice: "No war for lithium!"

"The Lithuanians are oppressing the poor!"

38 posted on 09/02/2012 12:25:07 PM PDT by Dysart
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To: djf
Not a problem, we can use Potassium. It is cheaper, and about is about 100x more abundant than Lithium.
39 posted on 09/02/2012 1:45:05 PM PDT by PeaceBeWithYou (De Oppresso Liber! (50 million and counting in Afghanistan and Iraq))
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