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Monday, June 6, 2016

Is There Enough Lithium?

During the Tesla 2016 Annual Shareholder Meeting someone asked if Tesla had enough Lithium to do all the things they envision for vehicles and energy storage.

This is a common question when people first consider EVs. They are concerned that the world would be moving from peak-oil to peak-Lithium.

Elon Musk clarified that Lithium supply is in no way a limiting factor to any of Tesla's goals.

Lithium is not rare. It is the 3rd most common element in the universe. The first is hydrogen, but it is bound-up in water (or hydrocarbons) and difficult to separate. Helium is the second, but here on Earth, unless contained, it floats away. Lithium does not float away. It is often bound to salt and this is easy to separate. Lithium supplies are abundant and prices are low and stable.

Even if Lithium were rare and expensive it would not greatly impact Li-ion battery prices. Lithium is only about 2% of the volume of a Li-ion battery cell. Elon called Lithium "the salt on the salad."

Elon and JB noted that it would be more accurate to refer to their batteries as Nickel-Graphite (with Silicon-Oxide).