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Electric Cars Could Soon Become Part Volcano

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CMA Battery Electric Vehicle Technical Concept Study - Top view

As electric cars are becoming more and more popular, one thing is certain—pretty soon, we are going to need a ton of batteries to power them, which puts out a huge demand for lithium, since currently the most common battery chemistry is a lithium-ion battery pack.

However, demand for lithium is only expected to grow, so the order of the day is finding more.

According to a new study published in the journal Nature Connections by a team of researchers from Stanford University and the US Geological Survey, that shouldn’t be too hard—just look at the country’s supervolcanoes.

The most famous of these is Yellowstone, but there are three others in the US, at Crater Lake, Long Valley, and Valles Caldera. Each of these has formed a caldera, or an enormous bowl-shaped depression created after the volcano erupts, often filling with water.

As the study says, the volcanoes were formed by lithium-enriched magma, and over thousands of years, the metal leaks out of the volcanic deposits, eventually winding up in a concentrated form in the clay of the caldera lake. As a result, the calderas could become targets for lithium extraction, to help meet the demand for the metal while also diversifying the sources for it.

In a statement, study co-author Gail Mahood said, “We’re going to have to use electric vehicles and large storage batteries to decrease our carbon footprint. It’s important to identify lithium resources in the US so that our supply does not rely on single companies or countries in a way that makes us subject to economic or political manipulation.”

News Sources: Wired, Nature Communications