New electric batteries will eliminate the need for fossil fuels

This debunks another myth: that the EV revolution on a global scale is impossible because there is either not enough lithium, or not enough at a reasonable cost under free market conditions in states modeled on Western democracies. (The copper deficiency is more serious, but there could be a solution for that too, using graphene with aluminum).

The International Energy Agency estimates that demand for lithium will increase 20-fold by 2040 if we rely on existing technology. Australians are the largest producers in the world today. But the largest long-term deposits are in the lithium triangle of Argentina, Bolivia and Chile, which are in talks to form an OPEC-style cartel. China’s Tianqi owns 22 percent of Chilean group SQM, the world’s second-biggest lithium miner.

A lithium recycling industry will alleviate the problem. Lithium can be extracted from seawater. It’s highly diluted at 180 parts per billion, but research suggests it could be isolated for as little as $5 ($7.60) a kilo. If so, then the lithium fear is just another in a long list of seemingly insurmountable barriers that are disappearing over time. The march of clean technologies is riddled with such false fears. For readers with a better understanding of chemistry than I do, the Argonne-IIT uses a solid electrolyte made of a ceramic polymer based on nanoparticles. This requires expensive materials. It achieves a reaction of four molecules at room temperature instead of the usual one or two. It’s able to extract oxygen from the surrounding air to allow the reaction to proceed, solving a problem that has hampered development for a decade.

My advice to company bosses and ministers: Keep up to date with the world’s scientific literature or you will be massacred.

What the Argonne-IIT battery and other breakthroughs show is that energy science is evolving so rapidly that what seemed impossible five years ago is already a recognizable reality, and that before the end of this decade we will be looking at a very different landscape will look.

Germany and Italy last week managed to block EU plans to ban petrol and diesel sales by 2035. You might as well be barking at the moon. Moore’s Law and the learning curve of new technologies have sealed the fate of the internal combustion engine – with or without net zero.


The old companies cannot salvage their sunken investments in fossil fuel engines unless the EU retreats into fortress protectionism, which would be economic suicide. Attempting to do so would mean guaranteeing the destruction of the European auto industry.

The only hope of saving it is to go broke on electrification before global competitors run away on the price.

Coming battery technology will wipe out hydrogen in cars, vans, buses or trucks, and maybe trains and planes too. The associated loss of energy makes no sense.

It is much cheaper and more efficient to electrify wherever possible. Clean hydrogen is too valuable to waste. We need it to replace dirty hydrogen from industry. We don’t need it for road transport.

My advice to company bosses and ministers: Keep up to date with the world’s scientific literature or you will be massacred.

Telegraph, London

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Brian Lowry

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