The geothermal lithium will become an important resource for General Motors, an automotive group that is investing heavily in the development of long-range Ultium batteries. This type of lithium differs from that extracted in the traditional way: the lithium-rich frost is pumped to the surface from geothermal wells rather than through the ‘classic’ evaporation. After all, lithium is naturally combined with minerals and salts, and therefore it is equally natural that it is present in geothermal brines. The process seems to have excellent results also in ecological terms: water is used marginally, while the frost of lithium returns to the subsoil once the material useful to man has been separated; in addition, the geothermal plant can continue to produce electricity.
General Motors will leverage this method through an agreement with Controlled Thermal Resources, a California-based company which should guarantee the car manufacturer a supply chain with less carbon emissions. Imperial’s Salton Sea Geothermal Field will provide the precious lithium needed for Ultium batteries: a technology that should guarantee GM electric cars with a longer range than the competition.
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This agreement also includes the right of way over the lithium produced in the area, which of course is always a good thing when it comes to business with a high level of competition. The process to obtain geothermal lithium will guarantee GM stocks starting in 2024; in the meantime, the automotive group will have to continue to buy it for the most part outside the United States. “Lithium is a critical material for the production of batteries and will be even more crucial as the purchase of electric cars becomes more widespread. By securing this resource within the United States we will be able to achieve various objectives, not only technological but also environmental“Said Doug Parks, executive in charge of product development and supply chain management at General Motors.