General Motors is investing in and collaborating with Controlled Thermal Resources to secure local and low-cost lithium, a key component of electric vehicle batteries.
The lithium will be produced through a closed-loop, direct extraction process that results in a smaller physical footprint, no production tailing and lower carbon dioxide emissions when compared to traditional processes like pit mining or evaporation ponds.
A significant amount of GM’s future battery-grade lithium hydroxide and carbonate could come from CTR’s Hell’s Kitchen Lithium and Power development in the Salton Sea Geothermal Field, located in Imperial, California. With GM’s help, CTR’s closed-loop, direct extraction process would recover lithium from geothermal brine.
GM’s multi-million-dollar investment in CTR’s Hell’s Kitchen project is part of its $35 billion global commitment to EVs and autonomous vehicles. In exchange for its investment, GM will have the first rights on lithium produced by the first stage of the Hell’s Kitchen project, including an option for a multi-year relationship. The Hell’s Kitchen project is expected to begin yielding lithium in 2024.
“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,” said Doug Parks, GM executive vice president, Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain. “By securing and localizing the lithium supply chain in the U.S., we’re helping ensure our ability to make powerful, affordable, high mileage EVs while also helping to mitigate environmental impact and bring more low-cost lithium to the market as a whole.”
Batteries are one of the largest cost drivers of electric vehicles and lithium is a key battery material used in the cathodes and electrolytes of GM EVs. Lithium will become even more important in battery use as GM explores lithium metal batteries with a protected anode. Most lithium used in lithium-ion batteries is currently mined and processed outside of the U.S.
General Motors has a number of manufacturing facilities in the South. In Kentucky, it makes the Corvette at the Bowling Green facility. In Tennessee, GM builds the Acadia, and Cadillac XT5 and XT6 in Spring Hill. In Texas, GM builds the Cadillac Escalade and Escalade ESV, the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, and the GMC Yukon and Yukon XL in Arlington.