Tags: electric | cars | metals

Lack of Rare Metals Could Make Electric Cars Impossible

Wednesday, 28 Oct 2009 03:59 PM

By Julie Crawshaw

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If the government's push for electric cars is successful, the world supply of rare earth minerals required to make the batteries that run them could be devastated in as few as 20 years.

Irving Mintzer, principal of energy consulting firm MEG LLC, says that increased demand, considering the levels of the rare earth minerals cobalt and neodymium currently used in a typical lithium ion battery could cause a “nightmare scenario.”

Should this happen, perhaps petroleum as a fuel may not look so bad after all.

Cobalt demand has risen at a steady 5.6 percent for the last 10 years which if extrapolated forward would see demand in the region of 163,500 tons, before demands for electric cars are factored in.

The world currently produces about 55,000 tons of cobalt, some 50 percent of which comes from the politically unstable Democratic Republic of the Congo, the world’s richest source of cobalt.

Ford Motor Co. Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr. told government and industry leaders last week that his company is serious about building electric cars, The Houston Chronicle reports.

“We stand at the threshold of a revolution,” Bill Ford said during a keynote address at the Business of Plugging In conference.

“This isn't just an R&D experiment for us. We have real vehicles. We've placed big bets. And they start coming off the line next year.”

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