When we think of electric cars, we usually think of greener energy and saving the environment – yet now boffins are saying that these vehicles could come at significant cost to the environment.
The type of batteries used for electronic gadgets such as laptops, are the very same as those proposed for electric and plug in hybrid cars – lithium ion batteries.
Due to the amount of lithium ion batteries needed to supply the growth in demand, boffins are concerned that there will soon be a shortage of the metal.
Matthew Nordan, president of Lux Research says that it is a big concern as, “You can solve the transportation problem but end up creating an equally vexing commodity problem."
Production of lithium has increased since the 1990s to meet the demand for batteries in power tools and consumer electronics showing an increase in the price also, which is why plug-in cars are more expensive.
Even if this concern is not as great as worriers think – it does highlight a section of alternative energy not often observed – securing the supply of natural resources.
Lithium is extracted from "salt flats" where a briny liquid is pumped out from beneath the surface and dried in the sun – the dried product contains lithium carbonate used to make pure lithium.
The concern is not just about running out of this all important substance which we simply couldn’t survive without, it’s also keeping some up at night worrying whether or not supplier will be able to keep up with the increasing demand.
William Tahil of Meridian International Research said in an interview that, "The point is that electric cars are supposed to be environmentally friendly and there are many other materials such as zinc and iron... which don't require any more environmental degradation than has already been done"