Fossil fuel giant Exxon is betting its U.S. lithium operations will power a new generation of electric cars.
The United States has hundreds of thousands of tons of “recoverable” lithium, which could be used in car batteries, laptop batteries and renewable energy storage. United States Geological Survey 2021 said. However, the country has just one commercial-scale lithium extraction site today in Nevada, run by chemical manufacturer Albemarle.
Biden administration pushes for more lithium mines, despite indigenous opposition And environmental groups, and now Exxon is committed to drilling it out of the ground in Arkansas. In doing so, Exxon is potentially challenging You’re here – which works to extract lithium from clay in Texas – as well as numerous tech startups. Lilac Solutionsfor example, wants to extract lithium of the Great Salt Lake in Utah. There is also EnergyX backed by GMwhich raised $50 million in April for “open“Lithium in North America.
Exxon declared On Monday, it aims to start producing lithium in 2027. It said it was talking with “potential customers” such as manufacturers of electric vehicles and batteries. By the start of the next decade, Exxon said it aims to produce “enough lithium to meet the manufacturing needs of more than 1 million electric vehicles per year.”
Exxon executive Dan Ammann told CNBC the company wants to “get in early” in domestic lithium mining. The company was first to produce lithium-ion batteries in the 1970s, but she quickly gave up her business because she did not see its growth potential.
Lithium is a crucial component of modern batteries, which in turn enable the shift to renewable energy sources and electric vehicles.
Ammann said in a statement that Exxon’s direct lithium extraction technology would have “significantly fewer environmental impacts than traditional mining operations.” However, direct extraction of lithium still presents environmental risks, including high consumption of fresh water. More broadly, Argentine researchers warned in a 2023 paper that ecosystems around “lithium deposits are extremely fragile and linked to a food chain in which ecosystem services are crucial for livestock and rural populations.”