|Powering the Drive to Energy Independence
It’s not found on your dining table. You don’t use it to flavor your popcorn. It doesn’t cover icy sidewalks in winter. This is not your typical salt. In the high desert of Argentina, lying just beneath the crusted surface of vast dry lakes (known as salars), are pools containing a special element – one essential to revolutionizing global transportation. This element is lithium – specifically, lithium salts. The brine is brought to the surface and transferred to solar evaporation ponds, where the sun works its magic – transforming the liquid into lithium carbonate and lithium chloride – which are quite literally powering an energy revolution.
In contrast to lithium extracted from hard rock, FMC’s salar production process is sustainable. It involves reducing, reusing, and recycling waste generated directly from extraction processes. Careful production of the best lithium products possible, as efficiently as possible, results in a more robust and sustainable product.
All salts are not created equal
FMC is among the world’s leading producers of high-grade lithium salts, increasingly used in powering the electric vehicles that are rising in popularity around the world. This “super salt” is playing an important role in a new generation of vehicle batteries that are reducing global carbon emissions, greenhouse gases and dependence on fossil fuels – as more and more people are driving hybrid and electric vehicles. Surprising to some, these cars are nothing new. Nor are the global problems they were designed to overcome.
An idea ahead of its time
In 1835, Thomas Davenport, an American blacksmith, became the first person ever to use an electric motor to build a small electric railway. Then in 1884, British inventor Thomas Parker created a “horseless carriage.” He’s credited with electrifying English transport, including the London Underground. Not unlike today’s environmental concerns, his efforts were driven by the desire to reduce the smoke and pollution that plagued Londoners of his time. It wasn’t until 1897 that electric vehicles found their first commercial application in the United States as a fleet of electrical New York City taxis. When nickel-ion, rechargeable batteries were invented, Thomas Edison immediately recognized their potential to power electric cars. After 10 years of trying to create a battery that would help automobiles travel a practical distance without recharging, Edison shelved his experiments. If only he had seen into the future.
Global concern pushes re-invention
An abundance of oil at the turn of the 20th century propelled visionaries like Henry Ford to invest in the combustion engine. The automobile age was born. After more than a century since the famed Model T rolled off production lines, the world is grappling with the problems associated with fossil fuel-based personal transportation – air pollution, the volatile oil market and concerns over greenhouse gases.
Large questions loom for an increasingly informed and environmentally conscious global consumer. How can I decrease my carbon footprint? What role can I play in lowering greenhouse gas emissions? Is there anything that can be done to reduce our addiction to oil?
FMC has been asking questions, too, including a big one: How do we help create a cost-efficient battery that will increase the distance traveled, make it more practical for everyday use and eliminate the environmental concerns associated with the internal combustion engine?
In FMC’s lithium technology, the world is discovering the future of battery technology. Lithium revives, recharges and reinvents batteries. It is the elemental source of power that enables us to replace vehicles that have been powered exclusively by petroleum. The “vision” of hybrids, plug-ins and electric vehicles is no longer a pipe dream; it’s here, it’s now, and it’s also the future.
FMC is an integral part of that reality. See related article to learn how FMC Lithium is helping batteries last longer and perform better.
Related article: Long(er) Live the Lithium-ion Battery!