By Russell Chianelli
Electric vehicles are a
promising technology for reducing pollution, especially in crowded
cities. Currently, the power train in electric cars consists of the storage of power in batteries with lithium anodes and power generation by an electric motor. The electric motor requires rare earth elements such as neodymium. Where do we get the Li and the neodymium? We present some articles on the subject and welcome comments regarding the trade and environmental issues associated.
The first article, The Battle Over Rare Earth Metals, deals with the supply of lithium from around the world. A huge deposit exists in Bolivia, and there are other deposits in China. When considering "green technologies," such as electric vehicles, we must also realize that raw materials such as Li, though abundant, may come from unusual places such as Bolivia, and this will require new trade agreements and arrangements. On the other hand, electric motors for electric vehicles require rare elements such as neodymium. These metals are rare and necessary for production of the vehicles, as indicated in the article titled, Beyond Lithium: What the Rare Earth Squeeze Means for Hybrid Cars. The production of rare earth elements can also cause environmental problems in their mining and refining. It is important to understand that many "green technologies," while promising, have hidden environmental and trade implications.