These are used in minimal quantities in circuit boards, which is also the case in modern vehicles that run on fossil fuels. Companies are betting hundreds of billions of dollars on electric cars and trucks. To make them, they'll need a lot of batteries. And that means they need a lot of minerals, such as lithium, cobalt and nickel, to extract them from the earth.
Vehicle values are for the entire vehicle, including batteries, engines and glider. The intensities of an electric car are based on a 75 kWh NMC (nickel manganese cobalt) cathode 622 and a graphite-based anode. The values for offshore wind and onshore wind are based on the direct drive synchronous permanent magnet generator system (including array cables) and the dual power induction generator system, respectively. Automakers like Volkswagen are quick to secure enough metals to power the batteries needed to make electric vehicles.
With the sale of millions of electric vehicles, recycling will be a key issue in the coming years, and many companies are rushing to develop their own operations in this segment. We combine bioleaching with electrochemical methods that can fish for these metals and make them useful for supply chains. These purified metals constitute chemical elements and, therefore, can be recycled indefinitely in multiple supply chains. Imbalances between supply and demand are driving up their prices, even though the market share of electric vehicles remains modest.
Bioleaching, also called biominery, uses microbes that can oxidize metal as part of its metabolism. Academics work on bioleaching to stop once they have removed all precious metals from electronic waste and are floating in solution. Unfortunately, existing methods in metal recycling that involve a lot of energy and toxic chemicals have been used for decades. But China intentionally set out to dominate the processing of these minerals, as part of a plan to become a major player in electric vehicles.
If we look at the total supply, both metals remain quite stable: platinum is around 250 tons and palladium between 250 and 280 tons each year. But there is a natural process for extracting precious metals from waste that has been used for decades. Batteries use several tens of kilograms of metals, if not hundreds, in particular aluminum, which accounts for approximately half of the total weight, followed by copper, graphite and nickel. Pressure on mining and metallurgical companies to improve supply and respond to these trends will be intense.
It has been used extensively in the mining industry, where microorganisms are used to extract valuable metals from minerals. Car manufacturers, on the other hand, care a lot about what the public thinks of them, and especially what they think of their eco-brand electric vehicles.