Your 2030 electric vehicle is parked on the bottom of the ocean

Posted: May 27, 2020 by oldbrew in Energy, Travel
Tags: ,

Typical electric car set-up

For the vast majority of today’s car buyers it’s welcome to stay there, judging by the puny sales figures.

Materials required for the emerging global electric vehicle industry can be found in abundance on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, about halfway between Hawaii and Mexico, says

In a region called the Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ), on the seafloor at depths between 4 and 5.5 kilometers, an estimated 21 billion metric tons of “polymetallic nodules” wait to be picked up by mining robots.

The nodules have been estimated to contain 6 billion tons of manganese, 270 million tons of nickel, 230 million tons of copper and 50 million tons of cobalt.

These materials are needed to make batteries for electric vehicles (EVs), electrical cables and other equipment critical to the move from a fossil-fueled to a clean-tech world.

“Measured according to their dry mass, the nodules are typically made up of about 31% manganese, 7% iron, 1.4% nickel, 1.2% copper, and 0.17% cobalt,” says Carsten Rühlemann, the director of the marine geology and deep-sea mining section of Germany’s Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR).

“The nodules’ composition happens to be remarkably well-aligned with the needs of electric vehicle makers,” Gerard Barron, CEO of Vancouver Canada-based DeepGreen Metals (DGM), told DW.

“Carmakers will need a great deal more of these metals in order to make battery cathodes and electrical connectors for an electric vehicle fleet of around a billion cars and trucks by mid-century, up from just 5 million today.”

DeepGreen Metals’ mission is not limited to harvesting nodules, Barron says. The long-term goal is to ensure that the metals are fully recycled, with nothing thrown away: “First we have to mine enough of these metals to supply the huge increase in quantity we’ll need for a renewable-energy-powered e-mobility future. Then we need to make sure we recycle everything.”

Land mining vs. seabed harvesting

Barron and Rühlemann both say there are good reasons to believe the environmental impact of seabed nodule mining will be far less severe than land-based mining in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, solid waste and toxic materials release.

Accessing land-based ores requires clearing a lot of land, moving a lot of overburden, and crushing huge volumes of rock, Barron notes. Land-based ores are also dirtier as they contain more toxic heavy metals.

And while CCZ seafloor nodules contain four metals key to the EV industry in one handy package, three different land-based mines are needed to obtain those same four metals.

Full article here.

  1. cognog2 says:

    It is going to require an awful lot of fossil fuel to get at these nodules.

  2. Chaswarnertoo says:

    Well known resource. Can it be used economically?

  3. oldbrew says:

    a billion cars and trucks by mid-century, up from just 5 million today

    Who believes that?

  4. JB says:

    Yeah. A BILLION vehicles? If Gates and his cronies have their way, there won’t be enough people to mfr them, much less drive them off the sales lots.

    When business began mining heavy metals, did it occur to anyone the long-term effects of their methods? Take the erosion problems in California caused by hydro-strip mining for gold. Ocean floor mining is yet to attain maturity with known repercussions to marine life.

  5. oldbrew says:

    From Wikipedia…

    Piggyback on French subsidies

    In September 2013, several French news outlets reported that according to the Norwegian newspaper Dagens Næringsliv, some car dealers in Norway have been buying electric cars in France and earning the €7,000 (~ US$9,465) government subsidy. These cars are then imported to Norway and after discounting the freight costs, they are sold at a discount. Dagens Næringsliv cited the case of one dealer near Oslo with 70% of its electric car sales corresponding to vehicles imported from France, and with at least 40 Leafs imported, totaling €280,000 ( ~ US$378,600) in benefits at a cost of the French taxpayers. These dealers took advantage of a loophole in the French law, which only requires to have an address in the country when buying a new car.
    – – –
    France is again offering €7,000 subsidies…

    French president announces sweeping e-mobility transition plan

    Imagine 1 billion EVs worldwide, as per the report, with that kind of subsidy.

  6. oldbrew says:

    Why Electric Cars Struggle in the Cold—and How to Help Them

    Cold weather is no fun for battery-powered cars, but experienced owners have a few tips for getting by when the mercury drops.
    . . .
    Typically, an EV will cover around 20 percent fewer miles in cold weather versus beach weather.

    Also: Don’t despair—there are workarounds. First, don’t let the battery get too low—make sure you always have a 20 percent charge or so.

    There goes 20% of your range if the power shouldn’t be used.

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