Stellantis orders Hell's Kitchen lithium
Joins growing line craving low-carbon lithium served up by CTR Metal Tech News - June 2, 2022
Last updated 7/12/2022 at 2:08pm
Another major automaker has gotten in line to purchase future supplies of low-carbon lithium that Controlled Thermal Resources Ltd. will be cooking up from geothermal brines at its Hell's Kitchen project in the Salton Sea area of Southern California.
On June 2, Stellantis signed a binding offtake agreement with CTR for up to 25,000 metric tons of battery-grade lithium hydroxide per year for the batteries going into Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, and other electric vehicles it will produce in North America over the ten-year term of the contract.
The global automaker – which also owns European brands such as Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Maserati, Opel, and Peugeot – outlined its EV ambitions in Dare Forward 2030, a strategic plan to sell 5 million battery EVs per year by 2030.
To achieve its Dare Forward 2030 target, Stellantis will need to secure large quantities of battery materials, rare earths, and other critical minerals that were not needed for the internal combustion cars and trucks in its rearview mirror.
"In the fight against global warming, bolstering our battery electric vehicle supply chain to support our bold electrification ambitions is absolutely critical," said Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares.
The battery-grade lithium to be produced by CTR has become a hot commodity due to the ability to leverage the built-in geothermal power source at Hell's Kitchen to extract this critical battery ingredient directly from brine and then upgrade it to the hydroxide needed for lithium-ion batteries. The lithium-less brine is then injected back into the reservoir from which it was drawn, and excess geothermal electricity is fed into the Southern California power grid.
This zero-carbon, self-perpetuating lithium hydroxide supply requires much less water, time, and a smaller environmental footprint than the large evaporation ponds used at traditional lithium brine operations, and eliminates the digging required to produce lithium at hardrock open-pit mines.
The sustainability advantages of Hell's Kitchen lithium will be passed on to automakers and EV drivers.
"Securing clean lithium produced with energy from a renewable resource helps to further decarbonize the battery supply chain which in turn, delivers cleaner cars with less environmental impact," said Controlled Thermal Resources CEO Rod Colwell. "We look forward to a strong and successful relationship with Stellantis."
Stellantis is not the only company with an appetite for the lithium to be cooked up from the geothermal brine at Hell's Kitchen.
Drawn to the sustainability advantages offered, General Motors announced last year that it is working with CTR, including a multi-million-dollar strategic investment, to develop Hell's Kitchen.
"Lithium is critical to battery production today and will only become more important as consumer adoption of EVs increases, and we accelerate towards our all-electric future," Doug Parks, executive vice president of global product development, purchasing and supply chain at GM, said when the automaker inked the deal with CTR last July.
Adding to the popularity of the low-carbon dish to be served up by CTR, lithium-ion battery magnate Lars Carlstrom announced plans earlier this year to build a 54-gigawatt-hour lithium-ion battery factory near Hell's Kitchen that will be supplied with geothermal power and lithium from the project.
Carlstrom, who previously founded Britishvolt and Italvolt to manufacture lithium-ion batteries in Europe at the giga-scale, recently established Statevolt to build the Southern California gigafactory and potentially other similar facilities in the U.S.
"Today, we face a significant shortage in the amount of lithium that is required to meet the demand for electric vehicles. We are pioneering a new, hyper-local business model, which prioritizes sustainability and resilience in the supply chain to solve this issue," said Carlstrom.
Battery and automakers are increasingly looking at other geothermal brines similar to those being developed by CTR in California's emerging Lithium Valley as a means to sustainably fill this significant shortfall of the lithium-ion battery namesake ingredient.
Late last year, Stellantis signed an agreement with Vulcan Energy Resources Ltd. to offtake up to 99,000 metric tons of lithium produced from geothermal brines in Germany's Rhine River valley over five years.
Like Hell's Kitchen, Vulcan's Zero Carbon Lithium project leverages geothermal energy to produce battery-quality lithium hydroxide without the use of fossil fuels.
"Ensuring we have a robust, competitive, and low-carbon lithium supply from various partners around the world will enable us to meet our aggressive electric vehicle production plans in a responsible manner," said Tavares.
The massive demand for low-carbon lithium will likely have explorers looking for other places where lithium and geothermal waters co-exist. The Cornwall region of England is one place where this juxtaposition of energy supply and energy metals is known to exist – others will likely be discovered.