Will metal supplies limit battery expansion?

October 12, 2017

The dramatic rise in production of electric vehicles, coupled with expected growth in the use of grid-connected battery systems for storing electricity from renewable sources, raises a crucial question: Are there enough raw materials to enable significantly increased production of lithium-ion batteries, which are the dominant type of rechargeable batteries on the market?

A new analysis by researchers at MIT and elsewhere indicates that for the near future, there will be no absolute limitations on battery manufacturing due to shortages of the critical metals they require. But, without proper planning, there could be short-term bottlenecks in the supplies of some metals, particularly lithium and cobalt, that could cause temporary slowdowns in production.

A new analysis indicates that, without proper planning, there could be short-term bottlenecks in the supplies of some metals, particularly lithium and cobalt, that could cause temporary slowdowns in lithium-ion battery production. This map shows today’s trade flows of key ingredients for battery production, with exports from each country shown in red and imports in green.

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