By AJ Hyatt

A few facts about electric vehicles, this article is on the power source. 

We are told Ev’s are our future. Why they may be. 

The fact the federal government and many states have already in place mandated requirements for transitioning to EV’s should be alarming. For example MI. Gov. Whitmer just signed a directive to transition all state vehicles to EV’s by 2040. 

I have nothing against EV’s. In my opinion EV’s are still in an infancy stage. According to some articles, over 60% are vanity purchases and are not used as a first line of transportation.  

Lack of power grids, enough functioning charging stations, how far ev’s can travel between charges, charging fees, battery drain in cold weather/hot weather and when using AC and radios etc is all fodder for another time.

Today I wanted to lay out few facts you may or may not have known about the batteries. Full disclosure, some of the metals/elements used in Ev batteries are also used in phones, laptops and other batteries.

Colbalt and lithium are two of the materials used in ev batteries 

Colbalt artisanal mining is dome primarily in the Republic of Congo. Where 70% of colbalt is found. This mining is often done with no personal protective equipment, in chaotic conditions. Mine collapses have caused hundreds of deaths and injuries. In October 2022, the U.S. Department of Labor added lithium-ion batteries to a list of goods produced by child labor, specifically because of children involved in the mining of cobalt in the country.

Siddharth Kara is a researcher in modern slavery and recently published a book on the cobalt rush. He said what he saw in Kolwezi shocked him more than anything he’d seen before, as “the severity and scale of human degradation and exploitation at the bottom of global supply chains, it just really shook me.”

At mine sites he visited, “people were caked in toxic filth, children caked in toxic grime and filth and scrounging in pits, trenches and tunnels to gather cobalt bearing ore and feed it up the supply chain,” he said.

As of Late 2022, most electric vehicles (Ev’s) have lithium-ion and lithium polymer batteries due to the relatively higher energy density compared to weight. The major materials required in lithium-ion batteries are the chemical components lithium, manganese, cobalt, graphite, steel, and nickel.

It should be noted that a typical EV battery has about 8 kilograms of lithium, 14 kilograms of cobalt, and 20 kilograms of manganese, although this can often be much more depending on the battery size – a Tesla Model S’ battery, for example, contains around 62.6 kg (138 pounds) of lithium.

A single electric vehicle battery requires 63 kilograms of lithium carbonate. Each ton of lithium carbonate, or the equivalent for 14 electric vehicles, requires the evaporation of two million liters of water, the equivalent of an Olympic-size swimming pool. 

To produce just one ton of lithium carbonate requires the evaporation of 500,000 gallons of lithium brine collected from underneath the salt flats. And lithium demand is expected to reach 1.79 million tons by 2030. The reduction of groundwater and subsequent loss of surface-level waters would degrade the habitat and disrupt the wetlands, affecting feeding and breeding areas used by local and migratory shorebirds alike. Chemical pollutants used during the lithium mining process enter the groundwater and become more concentrated over time, polluting the ecosystem.

These metals such as cobalt, nickel, and manganese, which are toxic and can contaminate water supplies and ecosystems if they leach out of landfills. Additionally, fires in landfills or battery-recycling facilities have been attributed to inappropriate disposal of lithium-ion batteries.

More to come as we rush blindly into the future for the sake of feeling good.