GM Will Source Lithium from U.S. Using Renewables

Southern California is known for having significant quantities of lithium brine. General Motors (GM) announced in July 2021 that it intends to tap into this resource while using renewable energy for its processing work. 

GM announced a strategic partnership with Controlled Thermal Resources, an agency founded in 2013 with ties to Australia. Although details of the arrangement haven’t been released, the goal is to have the automaker tap into sustainable lithium resources from the Hell’s Kitchen project near the Salton Sea.

Should everything go as planned, GM might have all the lithium it needs for batteries. Up to 40% of global demand could be met from this resource, but only 5% currently originates outside South America, China, or Australia.

GM Hopes to Create a Closed-Loop Process

Controlled Thermal Resources uses a closed-loop extraction process. GM expects this technology to reduce the time it takes to refine battery-grade lithium while reducing harm to the environment.

The technology extracts brine from the ground, removes the lithium, and then puts the fluid back.

Operations with this technology have an almost zero carbon footprint, even while producing high-mileage EVs that fit into the average family’s price range. 

Thanks to GM’s investment in this partnership, they have first rights to whatever lithium gets produced. High-yield volumes are expected by 2024.

That means this single partnership could make it possible for the automaker to meet its electrification goals. GM also wants all tailpipe emissions to be gone from light-duty vehicles by 2035.