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Electrification

EVs vs. Gas Vehicles: What Are Cars Made Out Of?

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What are Cars Made Out of? Electric Vehicles vs Gas Cars

EVs vs. Gas Vehicles: What Are Cars Made Out Of?

Electric vehicles (EVs) require a wider range of minerals for their motors and batteries compared to conventional cars.

In fact, an EV can have up to six times more minerals than a combustion vehicle, making them on average 340 kg (750 lbs) heavier.

This infographic, based on data from the International Energy Agency (IEA), compares the minerals used in a typical electric car with a conventional gas car.

Editor’s note: Steel and aluminum are not shown in analysis. Mineral values are for the entire vehicle including batteries and motors.

Batteries Are Heavy

Sales of electric cars are booming and the rising demand for minerals used in EVs is already posing a challenge for the mining industry to keep up. That’s because, unlike gas cars that run on internal combustion engines, EVs rely on huge, mineral-intensive batteries to power the car.

For example, the average 60 kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery pack—the same size that’s used in a Chevy Bolt—alone contains roughly 185 kilograms of minerals, or about 10 times as much as in a typical car battery (18 kg).

Lithium, nickel, cobalt, manganese, and graphite are all crucial to battery performance, longevity, and energy density. Furthermore, EVs can contain more than a mile of copper wiring inside the stator to convert electric energy into mechanical energy.

Out of the eight minerals in our list, five are not used in conventional cars: graphite, nickel, cobalt, lithium, and rare earths.

MineralContent in electric vehicles (kg)Content in conventional cars (kg)
Graphite (natural and synthetic)66.30
Copper53.222.3
Nickel39.90
Manganese24.511.2
Cobalt13.30
Lithium8.90
Rare earths0.50
Zinc0.10.1
Others0.30.3

Minerals listed for the electric car are based on the IEA’s analysis using a 75 kWh battery pack with a NMC 622 cathode and graphite-based anode.

Since graphite is the primary anode material for EV batteries, it’s also the largest component by weight. Although materials like nickel, manganese, cobalt, and lithium are smaller components individually, together they make up the cathode, which plays a critical role in determining EV performance.

Although the engine in conventional cars is heavier compared to EVs, it requires fewer minerals. Engine components are usually made up of iron alloys, such as structural steels, stainless steels, iron base sintered metals, as well as cast iron or aluminum alloyed parts.

EV motors, however, often rely on permanent magnets made of rare earths and can contain up to a mile of copper wiring that converts electric energy into mechanical energy.

The EV Impact on Metals Markets

The growth of the EV market is not only beginning to have a noticeable impact on the automobile industry but the metals market as well.

EVs and battery storage have already displaced consumer electronics to become the largest consumer of lithium and are set to take over from the stainless steel industry as the largest end-user of nickel by 2040.

In 2021 H2, 84,600 tonnes of nickel were deployed onto roads globally in the batteries of all newly sold passenger EVs combined, 59% more than in 2020 H2. Moreover, another 107,200 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) were deployed globally in new EV batteries, an 88% increase year-on-year.

With rising government support and consumers embracing electric vehicles, securing the supply of the materials necessary for the EV revolution will remain a top priority.

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Electrification

Will Direct Lithium Extraction Disrupt the $90B Lithium Market?

Visual Capitalist and EnergyX explore how direct lithium extraction could disrupt the $90B lithium industry.

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Will Direct Lithium Extraction Disrupt the $90B Lithium Market?

Current lithium extraction and refinement methods are outdated, often harmful to the environment, and ultimately inefficient. So much so that by 2030, lithium demand will outstrip supply by a projected 1.42 million metric tons. But there is a solution: Direct lithium extraction (DLE).

For this graphic, we partnered with EnergyX to try to understand how DLE could help meet global lithium demands and change an industry that is critical to the clean energy transition.

The Lithium Problem

Lithium is crucial to many renewable energy technologies because it is this element that allows EV batteries to react. In fact, it’s so important that projections show the lithium industry growing from $22.2B in 2023 to nearly $90B by 2030.

But even with this incredible growth, as you can see from the table, refined lithium production will need to increase 86.5% over and above current projections.

2022 (million metric tons)2030P (million metric tons)
Lithium Carbonate Demand0.461.21
Lithium Hydroxide Demand0.181.54
Lithium Metal Demand00.22
Lithium Mineral Demand0.070.09
Total Demand0.713.06
Total Supply0.751.64

The Solution: Direct Lithium Extraction

DLE is a process that uses a combination of solvent extraction, membranes, or adsorbents to extract and then refine lithium directly from its source. LiTASTM, the proprietary DLE technology developed by EnergyX, can recover an incredible 300% more lithium per ton than existing processes, making it the perfect tool to help meet lithium demands.

Additionally, LiTASTM can refine lithium at the lowest cost per unit volume directly from brine, an essential step in meeting tomorrow’s lithium demand and manufacturing next-generation batteries, while significantly reducing the footprint left by lithium mining.

Hard Rock MiningUnderground ReservoirsDirect Lithium Extraction
Direct CO2 Emissions15,000 kg5,000 kg3.5 kg
Water Use170 m3469 m334-94 m3
Lithium Recovery Rate58%30-40%90%
Land Use464 m23124 m20.14 m2
Process TimeVariable18 months1-2 days

Providing the World with Lithium

DLE promises to disrupt the outdated lithium industry by improving lithium recovery rates and slashing emissions, helping the world meet the energy demands of tomorrow’s electric vehicles.

EnergyX is on a mission to become a worldwide leader in the sustainable energy transition using groundbreaking direct lithium extraction technology. Don’t miss your chance to join companies like GM and invest in EnergyX to transform the future of renewable energy.

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Electrification

Chart: The $400 Billion Lithium Battery Value Chain

In this graphic, we break down where the $400 billion lithium battery industry will generate revenue in 2030.

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EnergyX_Breaking-Down-the-Battery-Value-Chain

Breaking Down the $400 Billion Battery Value Chain

As the world transitions away from fossil fuels toward a greener future, the lithium battery industry could grow fivefold by 2030. This shift could create over $400 billion in annual revenue opportunities globally.

For this graphic, we partnered with EnergyX to determine how the battery industry could grow by 2030.

Exploring the Battery Value Chain

The lithium battery value chain has many links within it that each generate their own revenue opportunities, these include:

  • Critical Element Production: Involves the mining and refining of materials used in a battery’s construction.
  • Active materials: Creating and developing materials that react electrochemically to allow batteries to charge and discharge.
  • Battery cells: Involves the production of rechargeable elements of a battery.
  • Battery packs: Producing packs containing a series of connected battery cells. Generally, these come in two types: NMC/NMCA, the standard in North America and Europe, and LFP, the standard in China.
  • Recycling: Reusing battery components within new batteries.

But these links aren’t equal, each one is projected to generate different levels of revenue by 2030:

China 🇨🇳Europe 🇪🇺United States 🇺🇸Rest of World 🌍
Total$184B$118B$62B$39B
Critical Element Production$37B$25B$15B$8B
Active Materials$54B$31B$14B$11B
Battery Packs$34B$22B$11B$7B
Battery Cells$53B$37B$20B$11B
Recycling$6B$3B$2B$2B

On the surface, battery cell production may contribute the most revenue to the battery value chain. However, lithium production can generate margins as high as 65%, meaning lithium production has potential to yield large margins.

How Much Lithium Is Available?

Just a few countries hold 81% of the world’s viable lithium. So, supply bottlenecks could slow the growth of the lithium battery industry:

NationViable Lithium Reserves (2023)
Chile 🇨🇱9.3M t
Australia 🇦🇺6.2M t
Argentina 🇦🇷2.7M t
China 🇨🇳2M t
U.S. 🇺🇸1M t
Rest of World 🌍4.9M t

Supplying the World With Batteries

Supplying the world with lithium is critical to the battery value chain and a successful transition from fossil fuels. Players like the U.S. and the EU, with increasingly large and growing lithium needs, will need to maximize local opportunities and work together to meet demand.

EnergyX is on a mission to become a world leader in the global transition to sustainable energy, using cutting-edge direct lithium extraction to help supply the world with lithium.

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