Tennessee To Build Nation’s Largest Lithium Recycling Plant For Electric Vehicles

November 01 10:48 2022
Lithium, the lightest metal on earth, is a key component of future cars and power grid batteries.

Lithium, the lightest metal on earth, is a key component of future cars and power grid batteries.

Tennessee will soon have the nation’s largest lithium refinery. North Carolina-based Piedmont Lithium is building a new plant in Etowah, near Chattanooga, to manufacture battery components for electric vehicles.

“Every electric car needs a battery. Each of these batteries is lithium-ion. Almost everything else in the battery can be replaced with something else, but lithium is not replaceable,” said Keith Phillips, CEO of Piedmont Lithium Say.

The US Department of Energy has just announced $500 million in grants for three Tennessee battery-related projects: the Chattanooga graphite plant, the Clarksville plant for making “separators” between battery electrodes, and the Etowah lithium plant. The funding is part of a $2.8 billion package for US battery manufacturing.

Piedmont Lithium plans to start building a new plant next year. By 2025, the plant is expected to produce the lithium hydroxide needed for at least 500,000 vehicles a year.

To produce lithium hydroxide, a company must first mine an ore, a natural hard material from which a metal or mineral can be extracted. The US has a mine in Nevada but imports lithium mainly from Argentina and Chile. Further, the extracted metals can be converted into concentrates.

Piedmont plans to launch spodumene concentrate projects in Quebec, Ghana and North Carolina in the next few years.

Piedmont can then obtain the desired compound, lithium hydroxide, from the concentrate. The traditional method for producing this compound involves sulfuric acid, but Piedmont says its technology, which includes high-pressure chemical processes, can produce higher yields while reducing environmental risks.

Piedmont Lithium is expected to produce about 30,000 tons of lithium hydroxide per year, exceeding current domestic capacity estimates of around 150-20,000 tons per year. But Phillips said that’s only about 5% of expected demand in the late 2020s.

“The bottom line is that the needs of the market far exceed our production capacity,” Phillips said. “Battery companies will have to import materials until we can build more of these factories.”In recent years, Tennessee has become a hub for electric vehicle manufacturing.

Last fall, Ford announced an $11 billion investment in new electric vehicles in Kentucky and Tennessee, an announcement following increased economic and political pressure to move away from fossil fuel vehicles.

Phillips said three DOE-backed projects could spur electric vehicle production in the state. A radio special on what has been called the toxic culture of delinquency and revenge in the Nashville Police Department.

original source: https://www.bluejoysolar.com/news/tennessee-to-build-nations-largest-lithium-recycling-plant-for-electric-vehicles/

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