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Tesla and Lithium

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Tesla and Lithium

Old 7th Apr 2016, 20:38
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Tesla and Lithium

Car manufacturer seems to being going great guns. Almost 300,000 of the new model pre-ordered for delivery in 2017 sometime.
Plant under construction for batteries will have the largest footprint of any building on earth (A Boeing building is still largest overall in volume and the Pentagon is still the largest office building on earth).

But I read that they plan to take all the world's production of lithium for their batteries (?). Could be a tricky trick that.

Leading producers - Bolivia, Chile and Argentina.
Estimated reserves from 13m Tonnes to 39m Tonnes.
Enough to produce minimum of 1b 40kWh Lithium batteries with minimum reserves.
Enough to fill global demand until 2100.
Growth in demand currently 12% a year.
That exceeds production availability by 25%

Haven't dug into this very deeply but the numbers don't seem right so far, especially the bit about Tesla taking all the output..
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Old 7th Apr 2016, 20:52
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Tesla in stand-off over lithium supply - FT.com
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Old 8th Apr 2016, 01:12
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Lithium is also used in tranquillisers, so the pharmaceutical industry must be competing for it too.....
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Old 8th Apr 2016, 02:09
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Lithium is not exactly used to make tranquilizers but to make drugs used to treat such disorders as schizophrenia. The drugs have tranquilizing effects, but that's not quite the same thing as their being some sort of sedative.

The amount needed for pharmaceutical use is tiny compared to the amount needed for batteries, I assume.

Look forward to us mining our dumps in the future.
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Old 8th Apr 2016, 06:04
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Actually Lithium is used to treat bipolar conditions. It is not a tranquilizer however is toxic in small slight overdoses so blood levels are carefully monitored...
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Old 8th Apr 2016, 09:16
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Mmmm . . . one is in mind of Eric Laithwaite.

My son had a ride in a friend's high end Tesla. He said the pressure on his back seemed as though it would never stop. However, the company has cash reserves, but I read the other day that Tesla-for-the-proletariat is going to be make or break for the company. The dichotomy in these reports is bewildering.

(In this case, the proletariat is in the $48,000 car bracket.)

If only we could make motors in the wheels that were light enough to satisfy the un-sprung weight requirements.

I'll have a four engine car please.
Certainly, Sir. Just pop another two power wheels on the front and you're set to go.

Imagine thermal runaway in the biggest building on Earth. I'll leave you with that thought.
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Old 8th Apr 2016, 10:22
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How much Lithium?

Current global LCE production of circa. 100,000 tonnes, if available, would therefore be sufficient for 2
to 3 million PHEV batteries of 16 kWh capacity (GM Volt class).

World consumption of lithium - Business Insider
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Old 8th Apr 2016, 11:15
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It isn't just lithium.

The problem with so may renewable energy technologies is that they require using large quantities of the worlds rare-earth elements. Whilst not all of these are genuinely "rare", they are a finite resource and certainly not renewable. At least not without a totally rigorous and enforced recycling regime.
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Old 8th Apr 2016, 11:29
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Imagine thermal runaway in the biggest building on Earth. I'll leave you with that thought.
It was during a discussion on Lithium Thionyl Chloride batteries that I learnt the difference between "explosion" and "deflagration", and more importantly how difficult it was to control the latter once it starts.

All you can do is try and control it, because you can't stop the reaction....

A whole new set of problems for emergency services when these things are involved in high speed collisions
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Old 8th Apr 2016, 11:38
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Ironic that the company is called Tesla and uses batteries, since Nikola Tesla was the guy who pushed AC distribution and invented the induction motor.....
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Old 8th Apr 2016, 11:53
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FWIW, ''reserves'' is a term of art in the mining industry. Reserves are defined as resources which have been identified, quantified and can be be profitably extracted with existing technology at current market prices. In other words, a movable feast.

Reserves are what can be extracted today. When they have been extracted and if the market is there, resources will become reserves.
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Old 8th Apr 2016, 14:09
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I saw a Tesla sports Coupe silently glide past me in Lancashire the other day, what a good looking car close up,...and deathly silent, that'll catch a few of the old dear's out when more are around..Tesla's I mean
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Old 8th Apr 2016, 14:35
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I must declare an interest: I've had a Model S for more than half a year now and I've become a bit of a fan boy.

The idea of running an old-fashioned piston-banger, and setting fire to petroleum fluids to make the damned contraption make noise, now seems as absurd and quaint as lighting one's house with gas lamps or beeswax candles or having a sweaty man shovel coal to boil water to make a train go.

My one has the 90kWh battery pack and range is simply not an issue. I've never come close to running out of oomph and I seldom charge to much more than 80-85% and very rarely discharge much below 10%. On rare long distance trips I can theoretically go 300 miles before stopping for a half hour break at a Tesla "Supercharger" which pokes enough wigglies for another 160 miles or so. During that half hour break I go for a little walk; have a pee; have a cuppa tea; read the opinion of a Geordie matelot on matters of no importance. Actually, I tend to make that two breaks of 15 minutes as long distance trips in a Tesla are rather boring. The autopilot really does what it says on the tin and there's not much actual "driving" to do on those long trips. Inter-city journeys of more than 450 miles are what trains are for. Journeys beyond the contour of lowest astronomical tide are what aeroplanes are for.

The long-term price/availability of Lithium isn't a source of concern to me. Knackered Tesla batteries won't be taken to people's local land-fill at the end of the eight or nine year life span of the pack. They'll be recycled and much of the Lithium will be recovered and reused to make better and better batteries.

In my opinion, electric cars are at least a century overdue. They are certainly more than twenty years overdue. The vested interests of the combo of the fossil fuel firms and the old piston-banger industry quashed electric cars for decades until Elon Musk pushed back against the dinosaur industries and showed what can be done with the already existing mass-produced items that are needed for a modern car.

20 years or so ago there was an interesting documentary about the electric car's suppression by the vested interests who are motivated to perpetuate the worst of 19th century industrial practices while suppressing the best.
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Old 8th Apr 2016, 16:33
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Originally Posted by Basil View Post
Cazalet33, Close to where we live, I noticed a Tesla S being taken away on the back of a lorry a couple of weeks ago and returned a week or so later. What could immobilise one of those?
Apparently quite a lot can go wrong with the computer... (Tesla Model S Critical Backlash: Five Main Problems With Electric Car Identified In Recent Reviews)

A while ago there was thing about drivetrains failing all over the place although I doubt that was as widespread as the press made it seem...

My big concern is what do you do when/if something goes wrong on the motorway; your average AA guy isn't (yet) going to know what on earth to do and I doubt Tesla will appreciate you calling up because you've run out of electricity...
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Old 8th Apr 2016, 16:40
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Cazalet33, What are your fuel running costs
Almost nil.

Tesla Superchargers are free. I produce electricity at home, intermittently, for free. I have pv solar panels (80 x 2.5m x 1.5m) and a nominally 15kW wind turbine (actually more like 5 kW). Even if you pay for wiggly amps, such as at a B&B with a trickle charge off their 13Amp socket overnight, you'll pay mebbe a tenner for well over a hundred miles. That's the most you'll ever pay. Mostly it's for free, though supermarkets and railways station carparks want a coupla quid off your credit card for the privilege of plugging in at the best space in the park.

Servicing costs are almost nil, other than normal tyre replacement and an annual oil change in the reducer gearboxes. I have eight years warranty and eight years servicing included, so that's 'free' too.

Tyre wear is slightly higher than a fossil relic, but that's because the performance is extraordinary if you want to get heavy-footed. 0-60mph time on mine is 2.8 seconds. Quicker than a Porsche 911 Carerra or a Mclaren F1. The CofG is way down in the wheel arches as most of the weight is below the floor-pan in the battery (2/3rd of a tonne) and the two motors and their reducer boxes with sit between the front wheels and rears wheels respectively. Lots of tyre wear if you hoof it, but the ground-grip is something else.
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Old 8th Apr 2016, 16:48
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Tesla S being taken away on the back of a lorry a couple of weeks ago and returned a week or so later. What could immobilise one of those?

Try watching this guy, who has got a hell of a lot more experience with these things than I have. He had a minor defect in the battery pack which was a total stopper. He doesn't have the eight year deal that I got last year.

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Old 8th Apr 2016, 21:20
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Lithium isn't actually rare, it's the 25th most common element. The problem is that it's spread very widely in low concentrations.

Just like other mineral resources, as existing reserves run out it will become economic to look further and find new methods of extraction.

There are reckoned to be 230 billion tonnes of lithium in seawater, if someone can find a practical way of extracting it.
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Old 9th Apr 2016, 05:32
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Would love a Tesla, maybe in my next lifetime. A good friend has a top range Model S and the way he paints it, the car is a win-win all round, especially with the UK govt subsidizing installment of his home charging station.

In the meantime I am sure that battery technology will improve by leaps and bounds, avoiding one way or another most of the lithium problems stated above.
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Old 9th Apr 2016, 12:00
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Horses for courses. A premium price for limited capacity and range plus taxpayer subsidy is fine if your requirements are limited and you are happy with regressive taxes.

My business needs are for a long-roof wagon capable of carrying all of the company stuff for trade fairs, and with a 7-8 hour range in winter with wipers, heater and lights.

My personal needs are for a long-roof wagon capable of sleeping two in the back on a 6 hour trip to Narita with heater, wipers and lights. It also needs to be able to complete a 12 hour return drive to collect family from Haneda, using heater, wipers and lights, and without range anxiety.

The Tesla meets none of these criteria. Its OK if your needs are limited, but I'm not interested in paying a premium for an inferior vehicle.
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Old 9th Apr 2016, 13:57
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I am a fan of Elon Musk and his mission. Prior to the model S electric cars looked as if they were made on the side by some dildo factory, Telslas on the other hand just look fantastic and that's often half the equation.

Now for the practically. I believe there is a caveat when you do the 0 to 60 mph in under 3 seconds but it's not clear to me exactly what. Do the batteries overheat and need to cool down? Do the windings in the motor overheat and need to cool down? Are the batteries and/or motor cactus afterwards? Needless to say hurling 2 t that quick remains impressive feat.

Does the Telsa system use regenerative braking? Wouldn't a dedicated bank of super capacitors be better suited for that role rather than lose most of that instantaneous energy trying to trickle charge the lithiums?

A recent alternative to Lithium is Zinc Bromide batteries although their commercialism is yet to take off. I believe there is one Zinc Bromide battery wall competitor to Elon Musk's Lithium version.

I've never understood stewing over the mpg running costs of an expensive vehicle costing well over $100K, they depreciate faster than their fuel usage costs. It only makes sense stewing over that mpg figure if the owners did not pay for the actual vehicle out of their own pockets.

Even though I drive a fossil fuel dinosaur, and loathe the look, function, and over complexity of a lot of them electric and hybrid monstrosities, I think Tesla has finally gotten the electric formula as right as it can be for now.
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