California Has A Single Lake With More Lithium Than The Country Currently Needs

California may be home to a whole new era of electric vehicles thanks to its large lithium-reserves at the Salton Sea.

After the Colorado River flood in 1905, the lake covers 343 miles. It is also home to large geothermal lithium deposits. It could produce 600,000.00 tons of lithium annually, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. That is much more than America currently requires.

“This is a great opportunity for the genius of California to be deployed for the very important problem of the electrification of everything,” chief energy officer at nonprofit New Energy Nexus, Danny Kennedy, told Auto News. “If Joe Biden wants to make batteries in America for the electrification of our vehicle fleets, this is your only shot at scale.”

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U.S. Geological Survey, Reston/WikiMedia commons

Officials have known about the lithium deposits for quite some time but according to chief executive of Controlled Thermal Resources, Rod Colwell, it hasn’t been economically viable to extract it until now.

Salton Sea’s liquid lithium, which is in suspension in super-hot liquid, is much easier to extract that traditional mining. There are eleven geothermal power stations in the region that extract the lithium from ground and produce steam. Once the liquid is extracted, it’s returned to nature. New facility, which will house both a geothermal powerplant and separate lithium extraction sites is under construction. Controlled Thermal Resources claims it will be able to extract 300,000 tonnes of lithium every year after the site becomes fully functional.

“What’s the world production now? Perhaps 380,000 to 400,000 tonnes. That’s it,” Colwell revealed to Auto News. “We’ve just got to do little bite-size chunks with 20,000 tons, 20,000 tons, 20,000 tons. Then we keep improving the engineering by replicating it and refining our work as we go. And we just put more wells down and keep moving out.”

General Motors made an investment in Controlled Thermal Resources. They are now working together with the startup to get the lithium from California. From 2024, the startup will be producing battery-grade lithium. The largest amount of lithium in use today is from Australia, China and Bolivia.

Image by Carol M. Highsmith/WikiMedia.

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Author: Brandon Park