Photo Credit: (Wikipedia Commons License)  The Chemetall Foote Lithium Operation in Clayton Valley, a dry lake bed in Esmeralda County, Nevada, just east of Silver Peak, a tiny town that has been host to various kinds of mining for about 150 years.  Date: 6 August 2010, 16:40  Source 2010_08_06_rno-phx-bos_033  Uploaded by PDTillman Author: Doc Searls from Santa Barbara, USA
12 Sep 2023

Tackling climate change: New EV battery tech, mega carbon capture project and lithium bonanza deposit found in the US


China has allegedly unveiled a new fire safe iron-phosphate battery with rapid charge times. The US has found the world´s largest lithium deposit ever and has also unveiled the world´s largest carbon capture facility.

According to a September 12 article in the Guardian, the Texas carbon capture plant will store 500,000 tons of carbon dioxide and place it in the ground every year. 

The creators of the project have been awarded funding from the Biden administration - this despite critics attacking the technology as a fossil fuel industry-backed "greenwashing" and an alleged distraction from the real underlying problems of climate change. 

To put the project in perspective to emissions from recent forest fires:  CTIF.org recently published an article showing data from Copernicus that wildfires in the Canadian Northwest Territories have emitted 97 megatonnes of carbon into the air so far this year. Without getting into advanced mathematics, we can easily conclude that hundreds of carbon capture plants of a similar scale would be needed to offset the Canadian fire season alone - and that´s just one province in one country. 


Are forest-based carbon capture projects more effective? 

According to a November 2022 article on Pachama.com, forest-based carbon-capturing projects are more realistic and effective in the long run, especially since they do not consume external (generated) energy once planted and growing. 

The article outlines three types of projects for forest-based carbon-capture: 

  • Reforestation: planting of new trees, often reverting degraded land back to forest 
  • Forest conservation: protecting existing forests that are at risk of deforestation
  • Improved forest management: employing forest management activities that result in increased carbon storage and/or reduce emissions from forestry activities 

The article then takes a closer look at the unique qualities of each project type. 


Iron phosphate batteries: The new, fire-safe future for EVs?

Lithium-based EV technology is also something which divides the world into two or more camps: On the one hand, electric vehicles have proven to overtime cut emissions and improve air quality compared to gasoline and diesel-propelled vehicles.

On the other hand, the extraction of lithium is not an entirely environmentally friendly industry. The fire safety of lithium-ion has been a concern among firefighters and legislators around the world for more than a decade, and the concern has evolved even more so in recent years as the number of EVs on the roads are increasing.

In a September 7 article, Gizmochina.com writes about the unveiling of a new iron phosphate battery which claims 10-minute charge times, 400-Kilometer range and much improved fire safety in the new battery from major EV battery manufacturer CATL in China. 

CATL, or Contemporary Amperex Technology Limited, is a Chinese battery manufacturer and technology company that specializes in the production of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles and battery energy storage systems. 

According to the article, the Shenxing battery is now only in the prototype stage.  However,  CATL plans to start mass production in 2024. The company says that the battery will be used in a variety of electric vehicles, including passenger cars, buses, and trucks. 


World´s largest deposit of lithium recently found in the US 

However, a September 10 article on Futurism.com describes what is allegedly the largest lithium deposit ever found, and it is not in China, but in the United States. 

A new study, published in the journal Science Advances, estimates that the McDermitt Caldera, a volcanic crater on the Nevada-Oregon border, contains 20 to 40 million metric tons of lithium.

"If you believe their back-of-the-envelope estimation, this is a very, very significant deposit of lithium," UK geologist Anouk Borst recently told Chemistry World.

"It could change the dynamics of lithium globally, in terms of price, security of supply and geopolitics."

However, as the article points out: The extraction of lithium can, depending on the methods used, emit large  amounts of CO2. It can also contaminate groundwater with dangerous heavy metals, and it can require large amounts of fossil fuels. 

For these reasons, the project has allegedly been wrapped in controversy. Conservationists have tried to block mining in the area, believing it would violate environmental laws. They have also been joined by Native American activists, as Thacker Pass is considered sacred to several local tribes.

However, a federal court struck down their appeals in July, and workers have now broken ground at the site

Will the shift in battery technologies once again increase competition between China and the US? And will geo-economic interests influence what types of batteries are going to propel our vehicles in the near future?


Canada also has large untapped deposits of lithium 

According to Natural Resources Canada, Canada currently has an estimated 3.2 million tonnes of lithium oxides resources (measured and indicated) at hard rock deposits. 

The Government of Canada has identified lithium as a critical mineral because it is a key material in the renewable energy transition, and Canada has the potential to be a supplier. Canada does not currently produce lithium


Photo Credit: (Wikipedia Commons License)

The Chemetall Foote Lithium Operation in Clayton Valley, a dry lake bed in Esmeralda County, Nevada, just east of Silver Peak, a tiny town that has been host to various kinds of mining for about 150 years.

Date: 6 August 2010, 16:40

Source 2010_08_06_rno-phx-bos_033

Author: Doc Searls from Santa Barbara, USA