New North Carolina Lab Will Accelerate Lithium Building Process
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There are a lot of consumers excited about electric vehicles (EVs). Electric cars are typically quieter, better for the environment, and can help you save money on gas.
However, one of the reasons many drivers haven’t switched to electric is because of the initial purchase price. The cost of the lithium battery used to power the average EV is high, which in turn means a more expensive car price. It may be difficult to justify paying that much for a new vehicle when there are still so many affordable gas-powered cars on the market.
Fortunately, Albemarle’s innovation lab in North Carolina aims to accelerate the lithium battery building process and help lower the cost of EVs. Battery production is one of the biggest costs for building electric vehicles
Why are electric vehicles so expensive?
It’s not uncommon for a person to experience sticker shock when they first start looking at EVs. The main reason the purchase price is so high is the vehicle’s lithium-ion battery.
Fossbytes recently reported that the battery accounted for one-third of the vehicle’s overall cost. A lithium-ion battery is made up of expensive metals such as cobalt, nickel, and lithium. The bigger and more powerful the battery, the more expensive the vehicle.
An EV uses the same rechargeable lithium-ion batteries as the ones in your laptop or mobile phone. They’re just bigger so they can provide more energy.
Albemarle hopes to make EV batteries affordable
Albemarle Corporation is the biggest producer of lithium batteries in the world. They have excelled at creating batteries that currently power phones, tablets, and computers. The company recognizes that the cost of batteries is an obstacle to EV adoption.
Albemarle’s new lab in North Carolina will focus on developing lithium products two to three times faster than before, as reported by Autoblog.
There’s no one-size-fits-all lithium for EVs, but a more efficient battery production process should help lower the cost of EVs. Chief Technology Officer Glen Merfield said that they’ll use cell-phone-sized custom samples to test lithium concoctions to see how well it’ll work for new cars. Currently, this process takes months and happens off-site.
To further reduce costs, the lab is creating a razor-thin form of lithium to make batteries cheaper and more powerful. It will have a thickness of about a fifth of a strand of human hair. This new technology can reduce costs by 50%.
Another way to reduce costs is to replace lithium foils with graphite which is an expensive part of EV batteries. The lab is expected to be fully operational in July, according to Autoblog.
Recycling batteries can also reduce EV costs
In May, Bloomberg reported that Albemarle is working on recycling efforts for lithium supplies. The company has set up a recycling initiative in Charlotte, NC.
Albemarle will help original equipment manufacturers recycle end-of-life batteries using its proprietary technology. Bloomberg estimates that 62,000 metric tons of used EV and stationary storage packs reached their end of life in 2020, and this is expected to grow by over 4 million tons by 2035. These recycling efforts will help reduce mining projects and help Albemarle be more eco-friendly overall.
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