Lithium: The Key Ingredient Powering Today’s Technology
Lithium infographic presented by: Dajin Resources
Lithium is nature’s lightest metal, but it is also one of the most chemically reactive, which makes it a key ingredient in powering and building the latest technology.
Most similar to a material such as wood in density, lithium would float on water if it didn’t react with it so intensely. The light metal even reacts with air almost instantly, turning from a silvery-white to dark grey.
Why is lithium so reactive? It is because it has a single valence electron that it can lend to many different types of chemical reactions.
Before 1990, it was rare for more than 100,000 tonnes of lithium to be used each year. However, since then demand has skyrocketed to closer to 600,000 tonnes per year, where it is today. Lithium’s uses are split between chemical and technical, but the fastest growing segments of demand are derived from its electrochemical potential.
Lithium has the highest electric output per unit weight of any battery material, which makes it the obvious choice for energy storage in many types of technology. Electric cars, renewable energy, smart grids, and consumer electronics are all using lithium ion batteries, and these markets all show signs of growth in the future.
Furthermore, lithium has some other interesting uses as well. Recently Alcoa developed a 4th generation aluminum-lithium alloy to reduce weight of airliners. The result is a 15% fuel savings through increased fuel efficiency.
While lithium is not scarce, it does tend to be deposited in very low concentrations through many types of rocks. The biggest challenge is finding high enough concentrations to make it cost-efficient to produce. Uniquely to lithium, brine deposits can cut exploration and milling costs by up to 50%, which has priced many hard rock miners out of the market.
Brine deposits are produced mainly from salt flats, which are also known as salars. The “Lithium Triangle” is the major industrial producer of lithium and holds over 70% of global reserves. The only producing lithium mine in the United States is in Clayton Valley, Nevada in the “Lithium Hub”, which is very close to the site of Tesla’s $5 billion Gigafactory.
Lithium, because of its physical and chemical properties, is an essential ingredient powering today’s technology. Moving forward, lithium will be even more important for crucial areas such as power storage, electronics, automobiles, defense, and aerospace.
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Visualizing China’s Dominance in Battery Manufacturing (2022-2027P)
This infographic breaks down battery manufacturing capacity by country in 2022 and 2027.
Visualizing China’s Dominance in Battery Manufacturing
With the world gearing up for the electric vehicle era, battery manufacturing has become a priority for many nations, including the United States.
However, having entered the race for batteries early, China is far and away in the lead.
Using the data and projections behind BloombergNEF’s lithium-ion supply chain rankings, this infographic visualizes battery manufacturing capacity by country in 2022 and 2027p, highlighting the extent of China’s battery dominance.
Battery Manufacturing Capacity by Country in 2022
In 2022, China had more battery production capacity than the rest of the world combined.
|Rank||Country||2022 Battery Cell|
Manufacturing Capacity, GWh
|% of Total|
|#7||🇰🇷 South Korea||15||1%|
With nearly 900 gigawatt-hours of manufacturing capacity or 77% of the global total, China is home to six of the world’s 10 biggest battery makers. Behind China’s battery dominance is its vertical integration across the rest of the EV supply chain, from mining the metals to producing the EVs. It’s also the largest EV market, accounting for 52% of global sales in 2021.
Poland ranks second with less than one-tenth of China’s capacity. In addition, it hosts LG Energy Solution’s Wroclaw gigafactory, the largest of its kind in Europe and one of the largest in the world. Overall, European countries (including non-EU members) made up just 14% of global battery manufacturing capacity in 2022.
Although it lives in China’s shadow when it comes to batteries, the U.S. is also among the world’s lithium-ion powerhouses. As of 2022, it had eight major operational battery factories, concentrated in the Midwest and the South.
China’s Near-Monopoly Continues Through 2027
Global lithium-ion manufacturing capacity is projected to increase eightfold in the next five years. Here are the top 10 countries by projected battery production capacity in 2027:
|Rank||Country||2027P Battery Cell|
Manufacturing Capacity, GWh
|% of Total|
China’s well-established advantage is set to continue through 2027, with 69% of the world’s battery manufacturing capacity.
Meanwhile, the U.S. is projected to increase its capacity by more than 10-fold in the next five years. EV tax credits in the Inflation Reduction Act are likely to incentivize battery manufacturing by rewarding EVs made with domestic materials. Alongside Ford and General Motors, Asian companies including Toyota, SK Innovation, and LG Energy Solution have all announced investments in U.S. battery manufacturing in recent months.
Europe will host six of the projected top 10 countries for battery production in 2027. Europe’s current and future battery plants come from a mix of domestic and foreign firms, including Germany’s Volkswagen, China’s CATL, and South Korea’s SK Innovation.
Can Countries Cut Ties With China?
Regardless of the growth in North America and Europe, China’s dominance is unmatched.
Battery manufacturing is just one piece of the puzzle, albeit a major one. Most of the parts and metals that make up a battery—like battery-grade lithium, electrolytes, separators, cathodes, and anodes—are primarily made in China.
Therefore, combating China’s dominance will be expensive. According to Bloomberg, the U.S. and Europe will have to invest $87 billion and $102 billion, respectively, to meet domestic battery demand with fully local supply chains by 2030.
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