Lithium-ion Battery Alternatives – Solid-State, Flow, Sodium, Zinc, Hydrogen, Seawater
The demand for lithium is at an all time high due to the explosion of the Electric Vehicles (EVs) market. As such, supply is a problem, and questions keep popping up about whether lithium is as “green” as it claims.
These matters have triggered businesses to look for alternatives to the lithium-ion battery, such as sodium, zinc, liquid metal, iron-air, magnesium, hydrogen energy storage, aluminium-ion, and even seawater. Despite best intentions, no alternatives to lithium have become a contender in the EV car market. Additionally, most alternatives are not yet commercially viable and EV qualification is a long process, as it takes time to scale up manufacturing of new technologies.
“Lithium-ion batteries fall into a sweet spot that balances high energy density and safety. The mineral is the least-dense solid element with the greatest electro-chemical potential and a very low melting point, producing an excellent energy-to-weight performance.” Source
Going back to the environmental side of lithium. Currently the processing of lithium is not what you would call “green”. Brine extraction which is the technique used in South America uses enormous amounts of water and can cause ground destabilisation, biodiversity loss, increased salinity, contaminated soil, and toxic waste. Rock extraction (in Australia) involves roasting and leeching the ore with sulfuric acid, not to mention the enormous carbon footprint created when shipping the rock halfway across the world to China.
To improve the environmental status of lithium extraction and processing, Australian innovators need to be the ones to help develop and scale up next generation lithium extraction technologies that are less harmful to the environment. We need a commitment to use more sustainable technologies to ensure that local mining, processing, and manufacturing companies can be proud of their new industry and confident they aren’t destroying the Australian ecosystem.
For now, it seems like lithium is here to stay, at least for the next decade or so. Our goal at Bardan Cells is to help support the industry and encourage more environmentally friendly extraction techniques. We aim to become a leader in lithium cell manufacturing in Australia and that means contributing in a positive way to each part of the mining value chain. The whole lithium supply chain should aim to protect and be responsible for the environment. At Bardan Cells, we commit to moving towards a more sustainable industry.