Tech & OnlineElectric cars and the climate: how much an electric...

Electric cars and the climate: how much an electric car actually pollutes

-

According to a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA), sales of electric vehicles will reach a record 3 million in 2020.
This is a 40% increase over 2019 and contrasts with overall car sales, which declined by 16%.

The report also estimates that electric vehicle sales could reach 23 million by 2030, due in part to the Biden administration’s announced goal of half of all vehicles sold being zero-emission by 2030.
Of course, lithium batteries are the preferred battery technology because they offer the best charge-to-weight ratio.

The transition to electric vehicles is being driven by major regulations in the United States, Canada and the European Union to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from internal combustion engine vehicles and pave the way to a greener, cleaner future, according to the Energy Agency.

How to obtain the components of a lithium battery

However, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) reports that the increasing prevalence of electric vehicles and the growing demand for lithium batteries pose a major environmental challenge.
“As demand for lithium increases and production is mined from deeper rock layers and brines, mitigation challenges will increase.

Lithium in its pure form does not occur naturally on Earth.

Currently, there are two viable ways to extract lithium: mining in hard rock or in evaporation ponds called brines.

Seawater represents a possible future source of lithium, but due to the high water, land, and time requirements, mining lithium from seawater is not feasible.
Due to its cost-effectiveness, brine is the most commonly used method for lithium extraction – 66% of the world’s lithium resources come from lithium brine deposits, according to the UNCTAD report.

Miners drill holes in the salt pans to extract the lithium and pump the salty, mineral-rich brine to the surface.

Once at the surface, the water evaporates, leaving behind a mixture of lithium, borax, manganese and potassium salts. The mixture is then filtered and sent to another evaporation tank, where it evaporates for another 12 to 18 months.

After this time, lithium carbonate and hydroxide are extracted and can be used to produce cathode material for batteries.
Materials such as cobalt and nickel are processed with lithium chemicals to produce battery electrodes.

According to a report by the Energy Research Institute (IER), about 500,000 tons of water are needed to extract one ton of lithium from brine.

If water were abundant, one could overlook the high demand mentioned above. However, more than 50% of lithium deposits are located in the “lithium triangle” of Chile, Bolivia and Argentina, and according to UNCTAD, this area is one of the driest on earth.
The driest areas on earth

In the rugged plains of Chile’s Salar de Atacama, it has not rained “for at least as long as humans have kept records, ” according to the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Geological Survey.

The result is a diverse but fragile ecosystem with limited water resources.

However, the Salar de Atacama is Chile’s largest salt desert and is rich in lithium salts just below the surface. Therefore, it has become an important source for lithium mining.

According to the IER, 65% of the water in the region is used for mining.

As a result, water scarcity has forced local farmers – who grow quinoa and raise llamas – and surrounding communities to abandon their ancestral settlements and find water elsewhere, according to UNCTAD.

“We used to have a river, but now it does not exist. There is not even a drop of water anymore,” Elena Rivera, president of the Colla indigenous community in the municipality of Copiapo, told the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

“And not just here in Copiapo, but all over Chile, there are rivers and lakes that have disappeared – and all because a company has a much greater right to water than we do as people or citizens of Chile.”

Copiapo is the capital of the Atacama region in Chile.

According to NRDC, the Atacama region is also an important habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife. However, mining activities are impacting these animals, 17 of which are considered endangered in Chile.
A variety of problems

Lack of water is not the only problem with lithium mining. UNCTAD reports that inhalation of lithium dust irritates the respiratory system and that prolonged exposure to lithium can lead to pulmonary edema.

Residents of Argentina’s Salar de Hombre Muerto say that lithium mining using ac

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest stories

Archaeologists have unearthed an inscription confirming the discovery of Bethsaida, the birthplace of the apostles Peter, Andrew and Philip

Archaeologists excavating an ancient church in Israel say they have found evidence supporting the theory that the archaeological site...

Derinkuyu, the underground city that can house 20,000 inhabitants. The incredible ingenuity of the ancient builders

Beneath the wind-sculpted, cone-shaped surface of Cappadocia in western Turkey, where millions of tourists visit each year, is a...

Spectacular, but deadly. Tourists get too close to the erupted volcano in Iceland to take a selfie

The Fagradalsfjall volcano near the Icelandic capital Reykjavik attracts more and more tourists. They come to admire the unique...

FBI: Alec Baldwin pulled the trigger. The gun that killed Halyna Hutchins did not discharge itself.

An expert from FBI has concluded that actor and producer Alec Baldwin pulled the trigger of the gun that...

Indian man fought in court for 22 years for 25 cents he overpaid for two train tickets

An Indian man has won a lawsuit after a 22-year legal battle over two train tickets for which he...

Over 100 eagles poisoned by poachers in South Africa’s Kruger National Park

More than 100 vultures and a hyena have been poisoned by poachers in Kruger National Park in northeastern South...

Indian man fought in court for 22 years for 25 cents he overpaid for two train tickets

An Indian man has won a lawsuit after a 22-year legal battle over two train tickets for which he...

Over 100 eagles poisoned by poachers in South Africa’s Kruger National Park

More than 100 vultures and a hyena have been poisoned by poachers in Kruger National Park in northeastern South...

You might also likeRELATED
Recommended to you