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You’re here CEO Elon Musk joined Texas Governor Greg Abbott to inaugurate the site of the electric vehicle maker’s new lithium refinery in Corpus Christi on Monday.
Tesla plans to invest $375 million to build the Gulf Coast facility that will help it secure a domestic supply of lithium hydroxide, a key ingredient used to make batteries for its electric vehicles, and its home batteries. and utilities.
Musk said Tesla aims to produce enough battery-grade lithium at the refinery to make one million vehicles a year and produce more lithium than the rest of North America’s refining capacity combined there.
Mining company Albemarle has announced plans to invest $1.3 billion in a new lithium treatment installation in South Carolina in March.
According to filings with the Texas Comptroller’s OfficeTesla specifically plans to build a “battery-grade lithium hydroxide refining facility” and other “facilities to support other types of battery material processing, refining, and manufacturing and battery operations.” manufacturing auxiliaries in support of Tesla’s sustainable product line.”
The company promised in its documents that “the process Tesla will use is innovative and designed to consume fewer hazardous reagents and create usable byproducts compared to the conventional process.”
On Monday, Musk claimed, “There are no toxic emissions or anything else – you could live right in the middle of the refinery and not experience any ill effects.”
Tesla battery raw materials and recycling manager Turner Caldwell said at the event that the company will find “beneficial use opportunities” for its lithium byproduct, which it expects. to be mostly sand and limestone.
Typically, refining ore into battery-grade lithium requires an industrial process that includes crushing the raw material, heating it to high temperatures, and mixing it in a slurry with acids. One of the acids used in lithium processing is usually hydrochloric acid, which is a hazardous air pollutant in the United States. Clean Air Act.
Caldwell and Musk did not disclose the specific chemistry the company would rely on for the treatment.
Last year in April, Musk said Tesla might need to get into lithium refining because the cost of the metal had “reached insane levels”. Lithium prices have come down significantly since he made those remarks.
However, China still controls more than half of the world’s lithium processing and refining capacity, while the United States recently controlled only 1%. Musk said the availability of battery-grade lithium was a “fundamental bottleneck” for the electric vehicle industry and others.
Governor Abbott, a Republican, hailed Elon Musk as the greatest entrepreneur on Earth.
“Texas wants to be able to be self-sufficient, not dependent on any hostile foreign nation for what we need,” he said.