Global sustainability efforts are influencing national regulations. Post-industrial nations, like the U.S., have been busy establishing emission-reduction policies. Industries can shrink their carbon footprints and get ahead of regulations by adopting renewable energy sources.
Lithium-ion (li-ion) batteries support individual and industrial transitions away from fossil fuels. Residents and business owners are adopting lithium-powered devices to protect human health and the environment. However, quickly depleting lithium supplies are adversely impacting emission-reduction goals.
Environmental professionals are influencing lithium-ion battery usage to target ecological degradation. Greenhouse gas emissions are the leading cause of climate change, and nearly 29% of emissions come from the transportation sector.
In the U.S., the Biden-Harris administration hopes to decarbonize the transportation industry. Shrinking the transit system’s carbon footprint can significantly improve national sustainability levels. The administration plans to decarbonize the sector using electric vehicle (EV) alternatives.
EVs produce zero tailpipe emissions, which reduces local air pollution. Volvo and other automotive engineering companies are also making electric trucks and buses. Adopting an electric public bus system could minimize urban emissions.
Electric buses and EVs contain large-scale lithium-ion batteries. The batteries replace fossil fuel supplies. However, the rising demand for li-ion batteries has some industry experts concerned. Global society must preserve lithium supplies to support sustainable technology transitions.
Manufacturers are experiencing a lithium shortage that is interfering with their EV production plans. Lithium comes from rock or brine mines. Australia is one of the largest supplier regions.
As the demand for lithium increases, Australian miners struggle to meet consumers’ needs. Modern mining practices also rely on fossil fuels. Gasoline powers the machines and heavy equipment used by mining professionals.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine, the price of oil has increased. High gasoline prices limit miners’ lithium extraction abilities. Cost increases shrink the global lithium supply.
Miners are also minimizing their extraction practices to reduce adverse ecological impacts. Lithium mining is a water-intensive process. Argentina’s agricultural sector is experiencing soil erosion from local mines.
Environmentalists are looking to geothermal power as an economic and environmental solution to modern lithium mining.
This year, California created a geothermal electricity policy. The public utility commission established a 1,160-megawatt production goal. As the state increases geothermal energy production, it may unlock a significant lithium supply.
Hot brines reside beneath California’s Salton Sea. Geothermal plants contain ground loops, which access Earth’s natural temperature gradients. Unlike solar or wind power, geothermal systems produce electricity in all weather conditions.
Geothermal plants use Earth’s temperature differentiations to access steam. The steam runs turbines that produce emission-free electricity. A saline solution surfaces as a byproduct as power plants extract steam.
This solution contains numerous minerals, including lithium. Plant operators can extract lithium from the solution at a lower cost than through traditional mines. The extraction method could also support emission reduction efforts.
Adopting a clean transportation system requires an abundant supply of lithium. Researchers calculated the quantity of lithium in current mines. Their data can help manufacturers determine the number of EVs available in the future.
If professionals continue extracting lithium from current mines, society may have about 26 million tons left. Current lithium supplies and mining practices are unsustainable and cause abundance limitations. Geothermal extraction methods improve the efficiency and sustainability of lithium mining.
Using geothermal brine to access lithium greatly expands extraction possibilities. It also minimizes the surface-level and atmospheric pollution associated with mining. Geothermal brine and power significantly improve the sustainability of lithium extraction.
The energy supply has a smaller carbon footprint than fossil fuels. Geothermal electricity is also renewable because heat stores are non-depletable. Using geothermal power and brine for lithium extraction reduces natural resource exploitation.
Geothermal plants produce more electricity using less land compared to other renewable energy sources. The power production method also generates virtually no pollution. The amount of waste created by these plants is significantly less than in conventional lithium mines.
The geothermal energy sector can improve lithium supplies for EV battery manufacturers. Plants are working on their brine extraction practices with this compatibility in mind. Once engineers and plant operators develop an affordable and scalable lithium extraction technology, geothermal power may influence the battery market considerably.