Limited lithium supply could impact battery productionLithium is seen by some experts as the future of hybrid car batteries. Current electric vehicles typically use a nickel metal hydride battery, but high-performance lithium will likely take over soon. Because it is the premier choice for rechargeable batteries, this natural resource is rapidly depleting. With more electric cars in production and more electronics using lithium, it may be difficult for suppliers to keep up with future demand for the resource.

Resources scarce
As more drivers become concerned about high fuel prices and damaging vehicle emissions, they are increasingly purchasing hybrid or electric vehicles. However, while many people stress about fossil fuel-guzzling cars depleting scarce natural resources, not many seem concerned that hybrid car batteries are quickly using up much of the world's lithium.

Ona Egbue, an engineering management doctoral student at Missouri University of Science and Technology, is studying global lithium supplies, and how a shortage will affect global supply chains.

"Batteries make up 23 percent of lithium use and are the fastest growing end use of lithium," said Egbue, according to "However, there are issues associated with the present supply chain of raw materials for battery production, particularly the security and supply of lithium."

Just a few countries in the world have lithium reserves, and Egbue told the source that more than 90 percent of global lithium supplies are in just four countries. Most of the metal reserves are located in China, Chile, Argentina and Australia.

Suppliers could create shortages
Because lithium resources are limited to just a few places, creating strategic partnerships is key for battery manufacturers. Lithium procurement has become increasingly difficult in some places, such as Bolivia. While the country boasts significant lithium reserves, diplomacy between Bolivia and the U.S. has reached new lows. This strained political relationship has resulted in uncertainty as to how long the U.S. will have access to Bolivian resources.

With just a few countries supplying manufacturers with much of their lithium, scarcity could become a problem. Because there are limited suppliers, countries could potentially restrict their lithium resources, causing the direct material cost to skyrocket.

As electric cars and rechargeable batteries increasingly use lithium supplies, the availability of this resource dwindles even more. Companies concerned about limited sourcing options may look into other technology to create high-performance batteries with a more sustainable, easy-to-access material. In the future, resource scarcity or high costs could force manufacturers to develop alternatives to lithium-ion batteries.
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  1. i jst saw this post now and after reading, it became obvious how we need each other in this planet in order to live peacefully. countries that we think are irrelevant in the phase of economy or technological advancement may tomorrow be the leading supply of the raw materials needed for us to run our lives effectively.
    kudos to ona egbue in exposing this area to us as we transit to the use of more batteries as alternative source of energy
    njelita chukwudi