Lithium, an essential element for batteries that power electric vehicles today and for solid-state batteries in the future, can be found across the globe. But as the industry scales EV production, automakers, battery makers and energy companies are rethinking the way much of the world has sourced the key metal.
Lithium demand has surged so much that prices have reached an all-time high, climbing 150 percent since the beginning of the year, according to Benchmark Mineral Intelligence. Even as battery chemistry evolves, lithium will remain central to battery development, said Sam Abuelsamid, principal analyst at Guidehouse Insights.
As companies experiment with lithium-sulfur, iron-phosphate and solid-state batteries, "the one common thread through all of that is lithium," Abuelsamid said.
Current lithium mining methods from brine can take years and require shipment to China for processing, increasing the carbon footprint to build a vehicle designed to reduce emissions.