Saudi Arabia's Lithium Vision for Electric Vehicles

Saudi Aramco and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company are uniting for a lithium extraction initiative to power Saudi Arabia's electric vehicle future

Saudi Aramco and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company are teaming up to extract lithium from oilfield brine, as the Gulf states advance their move into electric vehicles production. 

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is dedicated to finding alternative sources of energy and is leaving oil in the ground. 

Lithium is critically important for EVs, due to its use in the manufacturing of batteries. Lithium forms the core of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries and offers high energy density, allowing for longer driving ranges. 

Saudi oil expertise 'will boost lithium production' for electric vehicles 

DLE is the latest way to extract lithium, and is a technique that involves multiple chemical processes to isolate lithium into a saleable form. There are three three main methods are adsorption, ion exchange and solvent extraction.

An advantage of filtering lithium from salt water is that there is no need for open pit mines or large evaporation ponds.

However, one issue with extracting lithium from brine is that concentration levels can be very low, making already uncertain economics less favourable.

Although global economic problems have slowed EV sales and caused lithium prices to plummet, the leading carmakers are seeking new lithium supplies in anticipation of future demand.

Analysts say the EV industry is likely to depend on lithium for many years to come, because cheaper battery technologies are yet to reach market maturity.

Saudi Arabia's oil wealth means it can afford to establish itself as a hub for EVs to make use of whatever lithium it produces.

The kingdom has established its own EV brand – Ceer – and has built an EV metals plant. The Kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund, is set to fund 500,000 EVs annually by 2030.

Advancing battery science with sustainable innovation

Every industry is searching for ways to increase its sustainability credentials, to win the favour of customers and stakeholders. Yet while electric vehicles can lower carbon emissions, decrease air pollution and support the circular economy, its batteries - the beating heart of the vehicle - are not always sustainable. 

The team at Thermo Fisher Scientific are pushing the boundaries of advanced technologies, with the aim to ensure that its tools move the needle on the performance curve to help its customers reimagine what’s possible with science. Dan Shine is the Senior Vice President and President of Analytical Instruments at Thermo Fisher Scientific. He spoke exclusively with EV magazine about the development of different generations and diverse types of lithium-ion batteries.

“Low- and mid-nickel nickel-manganese-cobalt variants are beginning to phase out, while lithium ferro-phosphate has re-emerged due to reduced cost, higher safety and improvements to packaging design,” Shine explains.

Read the full interview here.


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