General Motors has agreed to form a strategic investment and commercial collaboration with Controlled Thermal Resources to secure local and low-cost lithium. This lithium will be produced through a closed-loop, direct extraction process that results in a smaller physical footprint, no production tailing and lower carbon dioxide emissions when compared to traditional processes like pit mining or evaporation ponds.
The relationship between GM and CTR is expected to accelerate the adoption of lithium extraction methods that cause less impact to the environment. A significant amount of GM’s future battery-grade lithium hydroxide and carbonate could come from CTR’s Hell’s Kitchen Lithium and Power development in the Salton Sea Geothermal Field, located in Imperial, California. With the help of GM’s investment, CTR’s closed-loop, direct extraction process will recover lithium from geothermal brine.
Batteries are and will remain one of the largest cost drivers of EVs. Lithium is a key battery material used in the cathodes and electrolytes of GM EVs like the Chevrolet Bolt EV and Bolt EUV. Lithium will become even more important in battery use as GM explores lithium metal batteries with a protected anode.
Most lithium used in lithium-ion batteries is currently mined and processed outside of the U.S.
The first stage of the Hell’s Kitchen project is expected to begin yielding lithium in 2024, helping GM to meet its aspiration of eliminating tailpipe emissions from light-duty vehicles by 2035.