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Extraordinary Raw Materials in a Tesla Model S

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The Extraordinary Raw Materials in a Tesla Model S

Presented by: Red Cloud Klondike Strike (Equity crowdfunding in mining)

The Tesla Model S is the world’s most-wanted electric car, with 100,000 units already sold as of December 2015.

Critics have lauded the car for its impressive safety rating, range, and design. However, it is also worth considering that it is the incredible raw materials that go into the Tesla Model S that help to make all of these things possible.

Here’s what’s in a Tesla Model S:

Body and Chassis

Bauxite: The Tesla Model S body and chassis are built almost entirely from aluminum, which comes from bauxite ore. Aluminum is lightweight, which helps to maximize the range of the battery beyond that of other EVs. The total amount of aluminum used in the car is 410 lbs (190 kg).

Boron steel: High-strength boron steel is used to reinforce the aluminum at critical safety points. Boron steel is made from iron, boron, coking coal, and other additives.

Titanium: The underbody of the Tesla Model S is made from ultra high-strength titanium, which protects the battery from nearly any roadside force or piercing.

Interior

Rare Earth Metals: While Tesla engines and batteries do not use rare earths, most high-end car speakers and other electronics use rare earth elements such as neodymium magnets.

Plastic: Most plastics are made from petrochemicals.

Leather: Leather is derived from animal skin, mainly cowhides .

Silicon: Glass windows and other features are made from silicon.

Carbon fiber and copper wire are also used within the interior for various components.

Wheels

Bauxite: Aluminum alloy wheels are also made from bauxite ore.

Rubber: Natural rubber comes from rubber trees, but today 70% of US rubber is synthetic, made from petrochemicals.

Induction Engine:

Copper: Tesla’s high-performance copper rotor motor delivers 300 horsepower and weighs 100 lbs (45.4 kg).

Steel: The stationary piece of the engine, the stator, is made from both copper and steel.

Battery:

The Tesla battery pack weighs 1,200 lbs (540 kg), which is equal to about 26% of the car’s total weight. This puts the car’s center of gravity a mere 44.5 centimeters off the ground, giving the car unprecedented stability.

The battery itself contains 7,104 lithium-ion battery cells. Here’s what’s in each cell:

Cathode: The Tesla Model S battery cathode uses an NCA formulation with the approximate ratio: 80% nickel, 15% cobalt, and 5% aluminum. Small amounts of lithium are also used in the cathode.

Anode: The negative terminal uses natural or synthetic graphite to hold lithium ions. Small amounts of silicon are also likely used in the anode as well.

Electrolyte: The electrolyte is made of a lithium salt.

Copper and/or aluminum foil is also used in the battery as well.

Note: all numbers above are based on the 85 kWh battery model.

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Energy

Charted: Global Uranium Reserves, by Country

We visualize the distribution of the world’s uranium reserves by country, with 3 countries accounting for more than half of total reserves.

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A cropped chart visualizing the distribution of the global uranium reserves, by country.

Charted: Global Uranium Reserves, by Country

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

There can be a tendency to believe that uranium deposits are scarce from the critical role it plays in generating nuclear energy, along with all the costs and consequences related to the field.

But uranium is actually fairly plentiful: it’s more abundant than gold and silver, for example, and about as present as tin in the Earth’s crust.

We visualize the distribution of the world’s uranium resources by country, as of 2021. Figures come from the World Nuclear Association, last updated on August 2023.

Ranked: Uranium Reserves By Country (2021)

Australia, Kazakhstan, and Canada have the largest shares of available uranium resources—accounting for more than 50% of total global reserves.

But within these three, Australia is the clear standout, with more than 1.7 million tonnes of uranium discovered (28% of the world’s reserves) currently. Its Olympic Dam mine, located about 600 kilometers north of Adelaide, is the the largest single deposit of uranium in the world—and also, interestingly, the fourth largest copper deposit.

Despite this, Australia is only the fourth biggest uranium producer currently, and ranks fifth for all-time uranium production.

CountryShare of Global
Reserves
Uranium Reserves (Tonnes)
🇦🇺 Australia28%1.7M
🇰🇿 Kazakhstan13%815K
🇨🇦 Canada10%589K
🇷🇺 Russia8%481K
🇳🇦 Namibia8%470K
🇿🇦 South Africa5%321K
🇧🇷 Brazil5%311K
🇳🇪 Niger5%277K
🇨🇳 China4%224K
🇲🇳 Mongolia2%145K
🇺🇿 Uzbekistan2%131K
🇺🇦 Ukraine2%107K
🌍 Rest of World9%524K
Total100%6M

Figures are rounded.

Outside the top three, Russia and Namibia both have roughly the same amount of uranium reserves: about 8% each, which works out to roughly 470,000 tonnes.

South Africa, Brazil, and Niger all have 5% each of the world’s total deposits as well.

China completes the top 10, with a 3% share of uranium reserves, or about 224,000 tonnes.

A caveat to this is that current data is based on known uranium reserves that are capable of being mined economically. The total amount of the world’s uranium is not known exactly—and new deposits can be found all the time. In fact the world’s known uranium reserves increased by about 25% in the last decade alone, thanks to better technology that improves exploration efforts.

Meanwhile, not all uranium deposits are equal. For example, in the aforementioned Olympic Dam, uranium is recovered as a byproduct of copper mining occurring at the same site. In South Africa, it emerges as a byproduct during treatment of ores in the gold mining process. Orebodies with high concentrations of two substances can increase margins, as costs can be shared for two different products.

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