Batteries are made of rare, declining, and imported minerals

Batteries use many rare, declining, single-source country, and expensive metals.  They consume more energy over their life cycle, from extraction to discharging stored energy, than they deliver.  Batteries are an energy sink with negative EROI, which makes wind, solar, and other intermittent sources of electricity energy sinks as well.

Minerals used to make batteries are subject to supply chain failures (stockpiles will eventually run out).

Depletion Peaks, Including Recycling, for Battery Minerals

Mineral
Peak Year
lead
2045
nickel
2075
cobalt
2065
manganese
2050
rare-earths
2090
lithium
2075
phosphate
2030
zinc
2015
barite
2000
titanium
2045

There are four main components to a battery: the casing, chemicals, electrolytes, and internal hardware.  The main minerals used are cadmium, cobalt, lead, lithium, nickel, and rare earth elements.

Antimony. 29% of antimony in the USA is used for batteries (35% flame retardants, 16% chemicals, 12% ceramics and glass, etc).

Arsenic: the grids in lead acid storage batteries are strengthened by the addition of arsenic metal

Cadmium: Nickel-Cadmium (NiCd) batteries.  It’s also used in photovoltaic devices. China uses it in the lead-acid batteries used by electric bicycles. In 2005 1,312,000 pounds of cadmium were used in rechargeable batteries.

Cobalt: 23,800,000 pounds of cobalt were used in rechargeable batteries (2005).

Graphite.

Lead-acid batteries. These consume 86% of lead production. In just the first 8 months of 2012, 81,700,000 lead-acid automotive batteries were produced.

Lithium-ion batteries.  This article makes the case for lithium shortages coming soon “Back to Land Lines? Cell Phones May Be Dead by 2015

Manganese: dry cell batteries

Nickel: 426,000,000 pounds used in rechargeable batteries (2005)

Mercury

Rare Earth Elements (lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, promethium, samarium, europium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium, holmium, erbium, thulium ytterbium and lutetium)

Zinc: dry cell batteries

References

Mineral Commodity Summaries 2013. U.S. Dept of the interior, USGS.

Do we take minerals for granted? USGS.

19 March 2010. L. David Roper. Depletion of Minerals for Batteries.

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