This story was originally published by Newsweek and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.
Electric cars and smartphones of the future could be powered by supervolcanoes like Yellowstone after scientists discovered that ancient deposits within them contain huge reservoirs of lithium — a chemical element used to make lithium-ore batteries, supplies of which are increasingly dwindling.
Lithium, a soft white metal first discovered in 1817 by Johan August Arfvedson, has become widely used in manufacturing, most importantly in the production of rechargeable batteries for phones, laptops, cameras, and vehicles. It has also been used in psychiatric treatments and to produce nuclear weapons.
Most of the world’s lithium currently comes from Australia and Chile, generally being extracted from brines, pegmatites (igneous rock), and sedimentary rocks. But it is a finite resource, and with car manufactures and technology companies increasingly looking to create battery-powered devices, lithium is becoming an ever-more precious metal, with demand outstripping supply.
In a study published in the journal Nature Communications, researchers... Read more