The discovery of the world’s largest deposit of lithium beneath Nevada and Oregon could revolutionize our reliance on batteries. This deposit, formed by a unique cycling volcano, has the potential to meet the increasing demand for lithium to power electric vehicles and grid storage batteries.
Scientists recently revealed the existence of this massive lithium deposit in a peer-reviewed paper. The area, known as Thacker Pass or Peehee Mu’huh to the local Paiute people, has been mined since the 1970s. However, the new analysis confirms that it holds the largest deposit of lithium ever found.
If the lithium extraction process begins in earnest, it could transform various industries, including electric vehicle batteries, lithium-ion smartphone batteries, and renewable energy plants that rely on grid storage. The demand for lithium is expected to increase up to ten times in the coming years to meet the needs of electric vehicles and grid storage batteries.
Thacker Pass, located in remote northern Nevada, has received permits for a massive lithium mine proposed by Lithium Americas Corp. However, the project has faced strong opposition from the local indigenous population, ranchers, and environmentalists.
The importance of lithium in battery technology cannot be overstated. Electric vehicle batteries contain a significant amount of lithium, ranging from 30 to 200 kilowatt-hours (kWh). The estimated global supply of lithium could power batteries for around 2.5 billion electric vehicles, considering the current lithium content. With the projected increase in the number of cars and trucks worldwide, the demand for lithium is urgent.
Grid storage batteries, which collect excess power from green energy sources like wind farms, are crucial for transitioning to renewable energy. A reliable supply of affordable batteries is essential for countries and communities considering a shift towards renewables. However, extracting lithium from the Thacker Pass deposit poses unique challenges, requiring a new process to separate lithium from its natural clay deposit.
Lithium can be found in various sources, including volcanic rocks, minerals like petalite and lepidolite, and gemstones like tourmaline. However, the Thacker Pass deposit is distinct because it was formed in a volcano millions of years ago. The lithium became part of a volcanic rock, which then mixed with sediment in the caldera to form clay. This unique formation process contributes to the high concentration of lithium in the Thacker Pass deposit.
With its vast lithium reserves and unique formation, Thacker Pass holds the potential to reshape battery technology and support the growing demand for electric vehicles and renewable energy storage.
– Popular Mechanics:
– Chemistry World: