Pedal to the Metal

March 13, 2024

As the need to accelerate green technology continues, the old adage pedal to the metal takes on an entirely new meaning for the auto industry and specifically, Electric Vehicles. 

Demand and interest in EV’s has grown rapidly throughout the past decade. This is due in part to heightened environmental concerns and auto industry buy-in, which has led to greater availability of competitive EV models with improved vehicle ranges. According to the International Energy Agency, the number of EVs on the road increased from about 22,000 to more than 2 million between 2011 and 2021.

The EV transition will require not only a new type of workforce in a wide range of occupations, but also the accessibility of metals. Yes, metals are the driving force behind society’s ability to effectively transform its transportation economy and charge into the future.

Why Metals?

Mined metals play a crucial role in the development, production, and growth of the EV market because they are essential components of key technologies that are fast-tracking this industry.  Some of the most important mined metals for EVs include:

Battery Technology:

  • Lithium is a key component in batteries used in EVs. Lithium-ion batteries are popular for their high energy density and long life cycle, making them suitable for powering EVs.
  • Cobalt and Nickel are essential components of lithium-ion batteries. They contribute to the stability, energy density, and overall performance of the batteries.
  • Graphite is an excellent conductor of electricity. Its unique structure allows it to intercalate (absorb and release) lithium ions efficiently, ensuring the electron flow that contributes to the overall performance of the battery.  

Electric Motors:

  • Copper is required for winding and coil systems. Copper is also an excellent conductor of electricity and is essential for ensuring the efficiency of electric motors.

Charging Infrastructure:

  • Aluminum is lightweight yet durable and used in the construction of charging stations and charging cables. Aluminum helps in reducing the overall weight of components, making them more energy-efficient and cost-effective.

Vehicle Weight:

  • Aluminum and Magnesium are lightweight metals used in the construction of chassis and body components, contributing to the overall reduction of vehicle weight. Lighter vehicles require less energy to operate, extending the range of electric vehicles.

Power Electronics:

  • Silicon and Gallium are metals used in the production of power electronics such as semiconductors. Efficient power electronics are crucial for converting and managing the flow of electricity in EVs.

Rare Earth Elements:

  • Copper and Aluminum are metals that are vital for the development of electrical infrastructure and grid systems that support the increased demand for electricity from EVs. They are used in power lines, transformers, and other electrical components.
  • Neodymium, Dysprosium, and Praseodymium are rare earth elements essential for manufacturing high-performance magnets used in electric motors. They contribute to the efficiency and power density of EV motors.

Recycling and Sustainability:

  • As the EV market grows, there is a focus on developing sustainable practices, including the recycling of metals from used batteries. Recycling helps in reducing the environmental impact and conserving valuable resources. 
  • More research is needed to find safer and more efficient ways to recycle minerals in batteries and electronics.

Ready to charge into the future? The successful transfer to an EV market requires metals!