You’re probably using the chemistry of Lithium every time you fire up your iPad, Prius or bicycle headlamp. Our world depends on stored battery electricity, whether it’s for headlamps or cars. And more lithium will be needed to make the batteries that help power the world. A study published by Standford University reveals how to help make our countries lithium independent-by harvesting lithium from supervolcanoes.
What are supervolcanoes?
Supervolcanoes are bigger than average volcanoes and spew magma up to 1,000 cubic kilometres of material in a single eruption in all direction and create massive calderas- giant holes that gradually fill up with water over time. Crater Lake in Oregon is a great example of these lakes. The calderas are so big that they can be seen from space. We can see them in Indonesia, New Zealand, and South America.
Importance of Lithium:
Lithium is crucial for meeting the growing demand for new green technologies to reduce global carbon emission. Due to increasing demand for lithium-ion batteries, several governments have classified lithium as an energy-critical element. They have a high power density and relatively low cost. This makes lithium optimal for energy storage in portable electronic devices, the electrical power grid, and the growing fleet of hybrid and electric vehicles. But researchers said that lithium will likely become critical by 2030.
How it can be the key to Future Energy?
Now the question arises how do supervolcanoes potentially help us to make batteries? Over thousands of years, lithium oozes out of the volcanic deposits heaping in the caldera lake, eventually become concentrated in a clay. Specimens were collected from the High Rock Caldera complex in Nevada, Sierra La Primavera, Mexico, Pantelleria in the Strait of Sicily, Yellowstone, and Hideaway Park in Colorado.
Accumulation of magmas formed in various tectonic settings shows how supervolcanoes have the potential to host huge amounts of lithium-rich clay deposit. Co-author Gail Mahood stated that “If you have a lot of magma erupting, it doesn’t have to have as much lithium in it to produce something that is worthy of economic interest as we thought earlier.” According to a professor of geological sciences of Standford University, we do not need extraordinarily high concentrations of lithium in the magma to form lithium deposits and reserves.
Greater access to lithium is crucial for meeting the growing demand for new green technologies to reduce global carbon emissions. Scientists said that supervolcanic sediments have the potential to host large lithium clay deposits. A shortage of lithium won’t hamper the advancement of EV technology in future.