The Lithium Revolution
How the shift to clean energy has opened a window of opportunity for energy metals.
“The Lithium Revolution” infographic presented by: Dajin Resources
Commodity investors know that it in recent years, the sector has had a rough ride. Recently, factors such as China’s slowdown have weighed on short-term prices of industrial commodities like fuels and base metals.
However, not all of the energy sector has struggled. The rise of clean energy has continued to gain momentum, which could be a boon for energy metals producers and explorers.
Simply put, energy metals are metals used in the creation or storage of energy. Here are some examples of energy metals needed to make lithium-ion batteries, which are the storage mechanism of choice for many green energy producers:
Lithium: Lithium is the main ingredient to lithium-ion batteries – the metal’s ions move back and forth to charge and discharge the battery.
Cobalt: Widely used in lithium-ion cathodes
Graphite: The most common anode material for lithium-ion batteries.
Note: Uranium is also used for nuclear power, and copper is fundamental for creating and transporting energy around the world. However, in this infographic we focus on specialty metals.
Electric cars and energy storage for renewable sources have been driving the increases in price and demand for these sectors. Let’s take a look at the specific momentum that has been growing since 2014.
Political and social:
- Obama reveals clean energy plan: The push will involve more than $1 billion in government funds to back new clean energy and energy efficiency projects along with funding research and development of new energy technologies.
- Who were the biggest investors in renewable energy in 2014?
China ($83.3 billion), USA ($38.3 billion), and Japan ($35.7 billion)
- Volkswagen DieselGate scandal causes uproar, as it becomes clear that millions of the company’s vehicles have cheated emissions tests for years
- Elon Musk announces a mandate for Tesla Motors to acquire raw materials from the USA when possible.
- 4,000 people die, each day, of pollution related deaths in China alone.
- The United States deems lithium as a strategic metal and doesn’t give any statistics of its reserves or production.
- Tesla reveals plans to build $5 Billion Gigafactory in the Southwestern US.
- Tesla announces Nevada as the site of its already-famous Gigafactory project.
- The 1 millionth electric car is built in September 2015.
- Report surfaces that Apple plans to ship driverless cars by 2019.
- Google’s self-driving cars reach the milestone of 1 million miles driven autonomously.
- Tesla takes $800 million in orders for its new home batteries in just two weeks.
- A TSX-V traded company was the most recent recipient of an off take agreement to supply Tesla with Lithium Hydroxide.
- Volkswagen’s stock price gets crushed over 30% in the aftermath of DieselGate.
- FMC recently announced an “across the board 15% increase in price” in all finished lithium products. Lithium Hydroxide rose from $9,500 per ton, up to $10,870. Lithium Carbonate from $6,500 per ton up to $7,475 USD.
- Charging stations have increased rapidly around the world.
- Every major auto manufacture has more than one fully electric car. Some automakers mandate is to have an electric version of every model.
- The oil price has hit a 6.5 year low, yet electric vehicle sales have held momentum.
- Lithium battery manufacturing costs are dropping in price while lithium battery technology is getting better.
- New technology is decreasing the charge time for electric cars. Meanwhile, “miles per charge” is rising, and some cars can even recharge wirelessly.
- There’s a greater interest in looking after the environment with a continued scare of global warming.
- Wind and solar storage needed to regulate output of electricity back to the grid.
- China is a nation now giving priority to EV cars on their highways and parking lots.
The above momentum means energy metals like lithium could continue to buck the general trend of global commodities. So far, the price of lithium has increased steadily since 2011.
How Much Oil is in an Electric Vehicle?
It is counterintuitive, but electric vehicles are not possible without oil – these petrochemicals bring down the weight of cars to make EVs possible.
How Much Oil is in an Electric Vehicle?
When most people think about oil and natural gas, the first thing that comes to mind is the gas in the tank of their car. But there is actually much more to oil’s role, than meets the eye…
Oil, along with natural gas, has hundreds of different uses in a modern vehicle through petrochemicals.
Today’s infographic comes to us from American Fuel & Petrochemicals Manufacturers, and covers why oil is a critical material in making the EV revolution possible.
It turns out the many everyday materials we rely on from synthetic rubber to plastics to lubricants all come from petrochemicals.
The use of various polymers and plastics has several advantages for manufacturers and consumers:
- Easy to Shape
- Flame Retardant
Today, plastics can make up to 50% of a vehicle’s volume but only 10% of its weight. These plastics can be as strong as steel, but light enough to save on fuel and still maintain structural integrity.
This was not always the case, as oil’s use has evolved and grown over time.
Not Your Granddaddy’s Caddy
Plastics were not always a critical material in auto manufacturing industry, but over time plastics such as polypropylene and polyurethane became indispensable in the production of cars.
Rolls Royce was one of the first car manufacturers to boast about the use of plastics in its car interior. Over time, plastics have evolved into a critical material for reducing the overall weight of vehicles, allowing for more power and conveniences.
Rolls Royce uses phenol formaldehyde resin in its car interiors
Henry Ford experiments with an “all-plastic” car
About 20 lbs. of plastics is used in the average car
Manufacturers begin using plastic for interior decorations
Headlights, bumpers, fenders and tailgates become plastic
Engineered polymers first appear in semi-structural parts of the vehicle
The average car uses over 1000 plastic parts
Electric Dreams: Petrochemicals for EV Innovation
Plastics and other materials made using petrochemicals make vehicles more efficient by reducing a vehicle’s weight, and this comes at a very reasonable cost.
For every 10% in weight reduction, the fuel economy of a car improves roughly 5% to 7%. EV’s need to achieve weight reductions because the battery packs that power them can weigh over 1000 lbs, requiring more power.
Today, plastics and polymers are used for hundreds of individual parts in an electric vehicle.
Oil and the EV Future
Oil is most known as a source of fuel, but petrochemicals also have many other useful physical properties.
In fact, petrochemicals will play a critical role in the mass adoption of electric vehicles by reducing their weight and improving their ranges and efficiency. In According to IHS Chemical, the average car will use 775 lbs of plastic by 2020.
Although it seems counterintuitive, petrochemicals derived from oil and natural gas make the major advancements by today’s EVs possible – and the continued use of petrochemicals will mean that both EVS and traditional vehicles will become even lighter, faster, and more efficient.
The Hydrogen City: How Hydrogen Can Help to Achieve Zero Emissions
Cities are drivers of growth and prosperity, but also the main contributors of pollution. Can hydrogen fuel the growth of cities with clean power?
In the modern context, cities create somewhat of a paradox.
While cities are the main drivers for improving the lives of people and entire nations, they also tend to be the main contributors of pollution and CO2 emissions.
How can we encourage this growth, while also making city energy use sustainable?
Resolving the Paradox
Today’s infographic comes to us from the Canadian Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association and it outlines hydrogen technology as a sustainable fuel for keeping urban economic engines running effectively for the future.
The Urban Economic Engine
Today, more than half of the world’s population lives in cities, and according to U.N. estimates, that number will grow to 6.7 billion by 2050 – or about 68% of the global population.
Simultaneously, it is projected that developing economies such as India, Nigeria, Indonesia, Brazil, China, Malaysia, Kenya, Egypt, Turkey, and South Africa will drive global growth.
Development leads to urbanization which leads to increased economic activity:
The difficulty in this will be achieving a balance between growth and sustainability.
Currently, cities consume over two-thirds of the world’s energy and account for more than 70% of global CO2 emissions to produce 80% of global GDP.
Further, it’s projected by the McKinsey Global Institute that the economic output of the 600 largest cities and urban regions globally could grow $30 trillion by the year 2050, comprising for two-thirds of all economic growth.
With this growth will come increased demand for energy and C02 emissions.
The Hydrogen Fueled City
Hydrogen, along with fuel cell technology, may provide a flexible energy solution that could replace the many ways fossils fuels are used today for heat, power, and transportation.
When used, it creates water vapor and oxygen, instead of harmful smog in congested urban areas.
According to the Hydrogen Council, by 2050, hydrogen could each year generate:
- 1,500 TWh of electricity
- 10% of the heat and power required by households
- Power for a fleet of 400 million cars
The infrastructure requirements for hydrogen make it easy to distribute at scale. Meanwhile, for heat and power, low concentrations of hydrogen can be blended into natural gas networks with ease.
Hydrogen can play a role in improving the resilience of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, by being an energy carrier. By taking surplus electricity to generate hydrogen through electrolysis, energy can be stored for later use.
In short, hydrogen has the potential to provide the clean energy needed to keep cities running and growing while working towards zero emissions.
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