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Will lithium shortage become a problem for model 3?

Discussion in 'Rumour Mill' started by TE3LA, Apr 16, 2016.

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Will lithium shortage become a problem for model 3?

  1. Yes

    3 vote(s)
    4.9%
  2. No

    44 vote(s)
    72.1%
  3. I Have No Idea

    14 vote(s)
    23.0%
More threads by TE3LA
  1. TE3LA

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    It seems as if there was a flurry of stories published about lithium this week, and its status as the hottest commodity on the planet, and the potential shortage of supply, which raised some questions for me:

    • Will lithium shortages drive up cost of Model 3?
    • Worse yet, will lithium shortages delay the Model 3 release?
    • Is there anyone out there investing in lithium suppliers?
    • If so, are there any "pure-play" lithium investment opportunities?
    • what are your thoughts?
    Tesla, tech icons scramble for lithium as prices double
    USA TODAY-Apr 14, 2016

    Precious metal: Is Nevada on the verge of a lithium rush?
    SFGate-Apr 14, 2016

    Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA) And Other Tech Giants Scramble For ...
    ETF Daily News-21 hours ago

    Tesla Wants New Lithium Suppliers for Model 3 and Gigafactory's ...
    autoevolution-Apr 15, 2016

    Tesla looking for new lithium suppliers for Model 3, Gigafactory
    Highly Cited-Autoblog (blog)-Apr 14, 2016

    Albemarle: If You Are Bullish On Electric Cars...
    In-Depth-Seeking Alpha-Apr 14, 2016
     
  2. MelindaV

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    My impression has been the 'lithium is running out' articles are all negative tesla hype. I don't remember seeing anything about shortages prior to publicity of the gigafactory.
    based on the ever-true information source (sarcasm ;) ) wikipedia, "Lithium is the 25th most abundant element on earth." Noting currently there are 32,500 tonnes of production and 14 million in reserve.
     
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    • Van Shrider

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      It's more about who is buying up all of the lithium contracts....
      GM, VW DaimlerChrysler, Tesla, Nissan, Faraday Future, Dyson, Korean SK Innovation and everyone else coming to the EV party will also need it. - and the Chinese....yes...the Chinese government might buy up much more than is needed just to take a position on it like they have with Thorium Reactor technology IP and more importantly rare earth materials that are as important to batteries as lithium is. You can't make batteries, solar cells, or windmill turbines without these, and they have cornered the market on them...
      There is plenty of lithium on earth, but there are very few companies that know the most efficient ways to access it. Cobalt supply might run scarce first.
      If you watch the lithium market any, you will see that is been going mad crazy since the Model 3 numbers have been coming in. And with things like power wall going crazy for alternative energy storage. I won't post the links, but Google lithium contracts and click the News button.
       
    • MelindaV

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      • Van Shrider

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        • TE3LA

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          Whoa, Ann Marie Sastry is one impressive individual! Thanks for posting, very informative for a EV noob like me. She speaks of the solid state battery tech as basically inevitable, which is pretty exciting given that it would double the storage capacity/density. (Also makes me wonder why she is partnering with Dyson instead of Tesla!)

          BTW she said lithium is the 33rd most abundant element, which is relatively abundant. The problem could be with artificial scarcity caused by governments / companies cornering the market. She also mentioned a good point which is that lithium is recyclable.
           
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          • TE3LA

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            http://www.teslarati.com/solid-state-battery-technology-tesla-gigafactory-killer/
             
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            • Van Shrider

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            • DomD

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              Anyone knows Elon's opinion on solid state batteries? Seems to be promising, and I would be surprised if he didn't plan for that technology, or something equivalent, in his Gigafactories.
               
            • MelindaV

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              Check out @TE3LA 's link in post 7. Elon's quote sounds like he is skeptical.
               
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              • TE3LA

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                After reading this article by Quartz, I'm extremely skeptical too. Either Sastry is holding the key to unleash a revolution in battery tech...or she is an incredibly adept con-artist. I'm guessing Musk is guessing she is the latter.

                http://qz.com/524268/sakti3s-quest-...pe-funding-promises-and-then-a-surprise-sale/

                The last quote of the article sums it up:

                "And he remains skeptical that Sastry has figured out the manufacturing process to build a better battery at scale. “If the doubt about it wasn’t there,” he says, “the news now would be about an IPO and a billion-dollar company versus a $90 million one.”
                 
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                • John

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                  The price may go up, but there will never be a shortage, per se. It's too common of an element, and it's not that hard to extract. People can more easily understand something like diamond mining ("the hunt for a rare commodity") than they do something like this, which is more like oil. As a Chevron engineer once explained to me, there's essentially an unlimited amount of it. Depends on what you want to pay.
                   
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                  • TrevP

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                    #13 TrevP, May 28, 2016
                    Last edited: May 28, 2016
                    People are under the impression that Lithium is the main metal in a cell but it's not. Lithium is used in the carbonate slurry that is "printed" onto the aluminum sheet that is rolled up and inserted into the cell.

                    There's only about 150 grams of Lithium per kWh in a battery. So a 90kWh battery pack only has about 20kg of actual Lithium in it, the rest is all the other metals and stuff that make up the pack.

                    Here's a video I found that shows the process. The cells they're making in the video are much larger than what Tesla uses but the process is identical.

                     
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                    • Red Sage

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                      Mmmmm... Katie Fahrenbacher meets minimum height requirement. Mmmmm, ~*droooool*~...

                      And Ann Marie Sastry ain't none too bad either... Wait... What?!? Husband? [DARN].

                      Uhmmm... Yeah. What were we talking about again? Batteries? Really? O... K...

                      I had forgotten that Sakti3's battery technology was being called 'Solid State'. I doubt that is truly accurate, since they still call it 'Lithium-ion'. My guess is that it is more of a marketing term. Though I did think she did a good job of explaining it was a process of adapting the lamination process currently used in making cylindrical battery cells to parallel/incorporate the wafer printing process that is used to manufacture silicon chips (if I understood her correctly). So, the storage medium would occupy the entire interior of the battery dimensions instead of being largely filled with an electrolyte that only transferred a charge from one end to the other.

                      My understanding is the capacitors (or maybe some form of crystals?) would be closer to a solid state storage medium. And Elon Musk knows just about as much about capacitors, and supercapacitors, as anyone alive. He originally wanted to use supercapacitors as the primary storage medium at Tesla. It was JB Straubel that explained to him why that would be a mistake. I am not as smart as Elon, but I understand things when a smart person explains them. And JB is very smart. So, if JB was able to convince someone as hard won driven to give supercapacitors ago as Elon was (he intended his PhD Thesis to be about them) and turned them toward Lithium-ion batteries instead, there must be a very good reason, or knowing JB, a whole array of EXTREMELY good reasons, why that is the best path forward.

                      Similarly, if Elon is not convinced about what Sakti3 has to offer and is actually 'doubtful' about it, considering how dedicated to the advancement of EV technology he remains... There must be something seriously wrong, or they never bothered to send Tesla a sample cell for some reason. I think it was perhaps a couple of years ago that General Motors invested a whopping huge $40,000,000 or so into Sakti3 and that garnered a whole bunch of press... But now the BOLT is using battery cells from LG instead. I thought the amount GM had spent was kind of low, considering reports are that they spent anywhere from $1,000,000,000 to $3,000,000,000 to develop the EV-1... Also upon realizing that GM's sale of the Nickel Metal-Hydride battery technology (that they conned from Cobasys) to Chevron (Texaco) was for an undisclosed amount (fortune).
                       
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                      • Gilberto Pe-Curto

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                        Portugal (my country) is the Europe's biggest Lithium producer. Or at least in reserves...
                        And we 'll be glad to have Elon and Tesla coming up to have is factory and use our lithium.
                        The Portuguese government is taking care of this...
                         
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                        • Jayc

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                          #16 Jayc, Dec 27, 2016
                          Last edited: Dec 27, 2016
                          I wouldn't go that far but I would agree that EM has an incredible aptitude to identify well in advance, technologies with major future potential. With the resources he has now, he is also able to pick the best in industry to work for Tesla which also means he has a whole bunch of scholars and experts to advice him. Being an Engineer himself with a physics background, he is also able to gauge the quality of the advice he gets from a technical perspective. As the co-founder of PayPal, the business perspective is also properly considered so he's got all aspects covered in his personal decision making process.

                          To claim however that any one person is the foremost leader in battery chemistry or quantum physics - that would be underestimating the subject itself.
                           
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                          • Topher

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                            Or she is mistaken. Or things are promising, but something will come up. Or... Plenty of options without having to go all the way to malice.

                            Thank you kindly.
                             
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                            • TE3LA

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                              Perhaps that is a bit harsh, but if you read the article it is clear there are very good reasons to be skeptical. Sastry didn't have any problem telling Obama to his face that she believed she solved the density riddle, but than gave a very vague and unsatisfactory answer when he asked her what it would take to make her tech the standard bearer. The article is filled with other such examples of how Sakti3 tech has been hyped with little proof. If the Sakti3 tech is legit, then we will all learn about it in due course. If the tech it cannot scale, than Sastry will have become very rich selling the hype before the tech was proven.
                               
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                              • Mark Eldridge

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                                I'm more concerned about the phosphorus shortage. However, we live in a world of finite resources and must account for the effect our purchases have on natural resource cycles in the biosphere.
                                 
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                                • Red Sage

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                                  Yeah. It is such... vagueness that gives me pause as well. I feel much the same about claims of a 'new type of battery' made by Lonnie Johnson, inventor of the Super Soaker line of toys. The guy is brilliant, but right at the point where it begins to seem his design description sounds more like a fuel cell than an actual battery, he shuts up and won't go any further. I find it rather frustrating.

                                  If what Professor Sastry has truly doubles energy density, that is cool. Except that if it only doubles energy density that may not be enough. There is a need to improve longevity, durability, number of cycles, shelf life, power density... All sorts of things. And what if the energy density for Tesla's own battery technology doubles by 2018, and again by 2027? Will Sakti3 keep pace, or fall behind, or exceed that rate of growth? It is nice that she is so confident that temperature ranges are greatly improved, and that pricing will be better, but compared to... what? 2009 levels by the traditional automotive industry as a whole, or 2019 levels by Tesla Motors?
                                   
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