Can we quit cobalt batteries fast enough to make electric cars viable?

By Donna Lu

Most of the world’s cobalt is mined in the Democratic Republic of the CongoSebastian Meyer/Getty ImagesElectric cars are getting cheaper and their sales are on the rise, but their future success may depend on ditching a key ingredient: the heavy metal cobalt.
The mineral is used in the lithium-ion batteries that power electric cars, and demand is steadily rising. A new analysis by Elsa Olivetti at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and her colleagues has found there may be cobalt shortages if we don’t start refining and recycling it more efficiently or in greater quantities.
They estimate that global demand for cobalt will rise to between 235,000 and 430,000 tonnes by 2030 – an amount that is at least 1.6 times the world’s current capacity to refine the metal, as of 2016 figures.


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