US to be powerhouse of electric vehicle

7 June, 2021 12:00 AM printer

WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden’s strategy to make the United States a powerhouse in electric vehicles will include boosting domestic recycling of batteries to reuse lithium and other metals, according to government officials.

As Mr Biden makes fighting climate change and competing with China centerpieces of his agenda, the administration is set to wrap up a 100-day review on Friday of gaps in supply chains in key areas, including electric vehicles (EV), report agencies.

These gaps include the minerals used in EV batteries and consumer electronics. The administration is also looking for ways to reduce metal usage in new battery chemistries.

Reports from various government agencies will be submitted to the White House, a process Mr Biden ordered in an executive order earlier this year. Parts of the reports could be released publicly as soon as next week.

Democrats are pushing aggressive climate goals to have a majority of US-manufactured cars be electric by 2030 and every car on the road to be electric by 2040.

Securing enough cobalt, lithium and other raw materials to make EV batteries is a major obstacle, with domestic mines facing extensive regulatory hurdles and environmental opposition.

Reuters reported on May 25 that Mr Biden plans to rely on mines in ally countries to supply much of the metals needed to build EVs.

The administration’s options to spur domestic recycling include direct investment in projects and scientific research, as well as spending funds approved by Congress.

Boosting domestic recycling would help the administration further that goal by breaking down older EVs into component parts for new vehicles and thus relying less on mining.

“When you look at the way the US has approached the recycling opportunity, what’s very evident is we need to invest in that capacity, we need to take a more proactive approach,” said one of the administration officials.

“A big part of the lithium opportunity is really recycling, and being a global leader in recycling the lithium from existing batteries and driving that into these new batteries.”

The White House would like to see more recycling plants open in the United States, one of the officials said, noting the announcement last fall by China’s Ganfeng Lithium Co of plans to build a battery recycling plant in Mexico to supply the US EV market. The administration’s emerging strategy will also include a heavy emphasis on research and development intended to boost the use of already-mined metals, the officials said.


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