United States Department of Energy announced in January 2010, that 24 million hours of supercomputing time at Argonne National Laboratories and Oak Ridge National Laboratories were awarded to investigate materials to develop advanced lithium-air batteries.
This effort, which is utilizing two of the most powerful super computers on the planet to construct a battery that will power electric vehicles over 500 miles on a single charge, is a classic example of how government and private enterprise can work together for the betterment of everyone.
This partnership between government's "super computing" ability, and the private sector, occurred as a direct result of two visits to these Labs by IBM's VP of Research in 2009. A consortium of scientists from IBM, Argonne National Laboratories and Oak Ridge have, at this writing, have developed a break through in Lithium-air technology that is said to increase energy storage by tenfold over today's more ubiquitous lithium-ion batteries. In other words, electric cars will be able to travel farther on one battery charge than most current vehicles, whether hybrid of gasoline powered, can today.
This is only one of the many projects underway to enhance lithium batteries for the coming boom in electric vehicles. At this writing, there are hundreds of scientists, electrical engineers, technicians and lab rats all over the world, from China to Chile, racing to bring their own inventions in energy storage to market, however they all have one element in common, and that is lithium. Whether it is lithium-air batteries, lithium-ion, lithium metal, or whatever catalyst is used, the common denominator is lithium carbonate.
The mining of lithium carbonate, and the rush to secure deposits of lithium brine in Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and China, is the reason that the electric metals market is heating up. Junior miners are getting swallowed by bigger players. Auto companies such as Toyota, Honda and Ford, and auto parts manufacturer Magna International, have all bought in to lithium miners in the past year, so as to secure a future supply of this vital metal.
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