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Demand for battery minerals is increasing — how can we keep up?

Demand for battery minerals is increasing — how can we keep up?

Our planet is altering. So is our journalism. This weekly publication is a part of a CBC Information initiative entitled “Our Altering Planet” to indicate and clarify the consequences of local weather change. Sustain with the newest information on our Local weather and Setting web page.

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This week:

  • Demand for battery minerals is rising — how can we sustain?
  • Taking inspiration from Greta Thunberg, extra seniors are becoming a member of the local weather battle
  • Making local weather knowledge extra human: drone footage of Fiona harm conjures up P.E.I. artwork exhibit

Demand for battery minerals is rising — how can we sustain?

A handful of electric semi-trucks parked next to each other.
(Sergei Gapon/AFP through Getty Pictures)

Electrical automobiles are extra fashionable than ever, and widespread adoption of them is a key a part of world plans to decarbonize the transportation sector. 

However the batteries powering these automobiles require a wide range of essential minerals — like lithium, cobalt, manganese and nickel — which has some specialists involved about runaway demand.

“Can the availability match the demand or not? If we can not match the demand, meaning we’re going to face some bottlenecks,” mentioned Fengqi You, a professor within the division of engineering at Cornell College in Ithaca, N.Y.

You authored a current research that predicts demand for lithium might rise by roughly 3,000 to 7,000 per cent by 2050, whereas demand for nickel, cobalt and manganese might additionally improve by hundreds of per cent. Ensuring we don’t run into provide constraints with these minerals is a key problem, You warns, and would require cautious thought.

His advice: prioritize the electrification of sure forms of transportation over others.

The Cornell researcher discovered that heavy-duty automobiles — like buses, semis and huge passenger vehicles — would account for greater than 60 per cent of essential mineral calls for, whereas solely accounting for 4 to 11 per cent of the highway fleet and roughly 30 per cent of complete transportation emissions.

In different phrases, it will not be an environment friendly use of sources to place batteries in heavy-duty automobiles, on condition that the electrification of light- and medium-duty automobiles would scale back extra emissions total whereas utilizing fewer mineral sources.

Adam Thorn, director of the transportation program on the Pembina Institute, a Canadian vitality think-tank, expects these constraints to ease as nations proceed to develop extraction, manufacturing and recycling methods. However he notes the short-term provide crunch could have an effect on our capability to make a speedy transition to EVs.

“What is kind of totally different and distinct about this mode of transportation that we’re shifting to is that it’s material-intensive,” mentioned Thorn. “We all know that it’s going to require important quantities of essential minerals.”

Thorn says totally different automobiles could require totally different decarbonization options — particularly within the various heavy-duty automobile sector. 

“There are many ways in which we are able to decarbonize with out only a one-to-one transition from an inner combustion engine to an electrical automobile,” Thorn mentioned. 

Decrease-weight heavy-duty automobiles that run “comparatively brief and predictable routes” — like buses and supply vehicles — could also be well-suited for battery know-how, Thorn argues. However for heavy freight that travels lengthy distances and wishes a better vary and sooner refuelling, different types of decarbonization, like hydrogen gas cells and biofuels, could also be preferable.

You additionally recommends utilizing a number of types of low-emissions know-how within the heavy-duty sector to construct a extra resilient provide chain.

The Worldwide Vitality Company studies 4.5 per cent of buses and 1.2 per cent of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles offered worldwide in 2022 had been electrical.

You and Thorn imagine one vital piece of the puzzle is the event of a round financial system — that’s, a system that emphasizes reusing and recycling supplies. Within the case of electrifying transport, meaning highly effective battery recycling.

For Thorn, one other essential cog within the wheel of sustainability is a sturdy system of public transportation — essential mineral demand and emissions may be diminished by encouraging folks to take buses or trains, which would scale back the full variety of automobiles on the highway.

Many nations have efficiently diminished emissions via public transportation, says You, however North America has a long-standing reliance on private transportation which may be tough to shed.

For Thorn, structural adjustments — like elevated funding and redesigned cities — might get extra folks out of automobiles and onto transit and assist clear up the battery demand crunch.

“Long term, we have to discuss shifting the city type,” he mentioned. “We have now constructed cities which can be actually car-centric, and it’s going to take some time to undo that.”

Adam Beauchemin

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Write us at [email protected].

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Watch the CBC video sequence Planet Surprise that includes our colleague Johanna Wagstaffe right here


The Massive Image: Seniors are taking local weather motion

An elderly man sits in his garden.
(Evan Mitsui/CBC)

On April 1, in an occasion dubbed Fossil Fools Day, folks throughout Canada took half in demonstrations towards RBC, the world’s greatest financier of fossil gas tasks, in accordance with a brand new report by the advocacy group Banking on Local weather Chaos. With a big displaying of seniors, the occasion supplied extra proof that an older cohort has grow to be galvanized to take local weather motion.

Nick De Carlo (picture above), the 76-year-old co-founder of Seniors for Local weather Motion Now! (SCAN), mentioned his group was fashioned from the view “that the seniors demographic was involved concerning the local weather disaster [and that] we had been in all probability the technology that’s been alive via this large progress of the environmental disaster … and we had been additionally involved concerning the future generations.”

Whereas the thought of seniors taking social motion will not be new – simply take a look at the Raging Grannies — “the extent of engagement [on climate change] and the type of it amongst older folks appears to be altering dramatically,” mentioned Tim Grey, govt director of the Canadian advocacy group Environmental Defence.

Invoice McKibben, the longtime U.S. environmentalist and founding father of the local weather advocacy group 350.org, distilled the impetus for motion in a current column within the U.Okay.’s Guardian. 

“We’re following within the footsteps of younger organizers who know that their lives are on the road,” McKibben wrote. “For these of us who’re older, it’s our legacy.”

Andre Mayer

Learn the complete story right here.

Scorching and bothered: Provocative concepts from across the net


Making local weather knowledge extra human: drone footage of Fiona harm conjures up P.E.I. artwork exhibit

A piece of knitted art depicting the P.E.I. shoreline.
(Shane Hennessey/CBC)

A drone’s eye view of P.E.I.’s shoreline served because the inspiration behind a brand new exhibit of handwoven artwork, together with two items depicting harm to the island’s coast brought on by post-tropical storm Fiona in 2022.

The drone port on the College of Prince Edward Island’s Canadian Centre for Local weather Change and Adaptation in St. Peter’s Bay will not be removed from the gallery the place the artwork is on show.

Shift is a solo exhibition by artist Rilla Marshall, who for greater than a decade has explored the island’s altering coastlines via her art work.

Marshall mentioned she actually acquired into mapping in 2010. “A part of it was simply rising up on P.E.I. at all times within the shoreline as this liminal area that’s in a continuing state of transition not solely in a bodily approach … but in addition on a metaphorical stage.”

She mentioned she finds the shoreline “a really wealthy topic to discover.”

“There’s plenty of artists working with local weather change proper now. I really feel like an increasing number of it’s simply grow to be a part of our frequent data, our cultural zeitgeist,” Marshall mentioned.

“I believe artwork can play a very vital function in partaking folks with the topic of local weather change, and making it extra accessible and customized.”

The artist was given entry to drone footage that’s been collected since 2018 as a part of analysis into coastal erosion. She then translated these visuals right into a sequence of handwoven items.

“Depicting these areas of shoreline that any person’s acquainted with however from a perspective that [you’d never] have until you have got a drone additionally creates these private connections to folks. [They’re] in a position to see how these adjustments have an effect on the shorelines that we love over time,” Marshall mentioned. 

“I believe all Islanders really feel a powerful sense of ‘Islandness’ and a connection to our island. And I believe utilizing artwork to speak about local weather change is an effective way to tug on these heartstrings just a little bit.”

Marshall mentioned the mix of science and artwork was additionally inspiring.

“Having a dialog between the ‘outdated tech’ of weaving and the high-tech manufacturing of drone photos is a really attention-grabbing dialog to have,” Marshall mentioned. “[It’s] taking that tough knowledge and with the ability to translate it into one thing that’s just a little bit extra human.”

Alexis Bulman, the artist-in-residence and curator of the centre’s artwork gallery, mentioned the exhibition’s title, Shift, has two meanings.

“One being the form of shift of sediment from the shorelines into the water, the act of abrasion. But it surely additionally is supposed to characterize our ‘shift’ in how we take into consideration erosion. How we shield shorelines is altering, and the way we study that info is altering as nicely.

“Like with this exhibition, you’re not simply studying about it via the information collected via the UPEI Local weather Lab, however via an exhibition by an area artist.”

UPEI researcher and drone pilot Andy MacDonald mentioned he was “blown away” by the art work.

“The imagery we get from the drones, I believe it makes excellent sense to translate that into artwork,” MacDonald mentioned. “Prince Edward Island is a really distinctive place. We have now distinctive coastlines, and I believe documenting that in an inventive approach is nice.”

MacDonald mentioned the exhibit can also be well timed, as UPEI researchers proceed to doc the post-tropical storm’s harm to the island.

“Clearly Fiona was a dramatic occasion, and I believe a giant a part of what artwork can do is specific all types of various feelings,” he mentioned. 

“I do know lots of people are feeling grief and disappointment after Fiona and what it’s carried out, and artwork is a technique to specific that.”

Nancy Russell

Rilla Marshall’s artwork will probably be on show on the Local weather Centre in St. Peter’s Bay till June 15, by appointment solely.

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Editor: Andre Mayer | Brand design: Sködt McNalty

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