Requirement and Availability of Scarce Metals for Fuel-Cell and Battery Electric Vehicles
Battery and fuel-cell electric vehicles (EVs) are considered as a means to meet some of the environmental and resource challenges of todays road vehicle system. EVs have the potential for zero tailpipe emissions as well as an energy efficiency higher than internal combustion engine vehicles and they can be flexible concerning primary energy source. However, a large-scale introduction of EVs is likely to introduce new environmental and resource issues. Several types of batteries and fuel cells contain metals that have detrimental environmental effects or are potentially scarce.
The purpose of this thesis is to identify critical aspects and the extent of long-term metal constraints for a potential build-up of large-scale EV systems during the 21st century.
Nine types of batteries and one type of fuel cell are investigated: Li-metal(V), Li-ion(Mn, Ni and Co), NaNiCl, NiMH(AB2 and AB5), NiCd and PbA batteries and PEM fuel cells. These contain nine potentially scarce metals: lithium, nickel, cobalt, vanadium, cadmium, lead, rare-earth elements, platinum and ruthenium.
We assess the following parameters: requirement of metals per kWh of battery storage capacity and per kW of fuel-cell power, energy and power requirement of vehicles, metal losses in manufacturing and recycling, stocks of available primary and secondary resources, constraints on annual mine production and competition for metals from other end-uses.
With pessimistic assumptions for all parameters, the material-constrained stocks of battery EVs range from 1.1 million NiCd-battery vehicles to 350 million NaNiCl-battery vehicles. Optimistic assumptions result in estimates between 49 million (NiCd) and 12,000 million (Li-ion(Mn)) vehicles. Data sets are provided of the requirement for metals per kWh of battery storage capacity and per vehicle, for both near-term and improved technology.
In order to perform the fuel-cell EV assessment, we make scenarios of demand for platinum in vehicles, industry and jewellery. Identified resources of platinum group metals are estimated at 155 Gg, including 67 Gg of platinum. In the baseline scenario, the demand for primary platinum in the 21st century amounts to 159 Gg, and current reserves and identified resources of platinum are depleted in the 2050s and 2060s, respectively.