Lithium will in the near future be one of the most sought-after raw materials on earth. According to forecasts, the worldwide demand for lithium will more than double by 2023 – largely owing to processing in car batteries.
Basically, five main raw materials are required for the production of lithium-ion battery cells for electric cars. On the cathode side, a compound of the elements cobalt, nickel and manganese functions through its structure as a storage location for the charge carrier lithium, on the anode side this is graphite. Lithium is also contained in the electrolyte. Lithium is currently regarded as an unrivalled charge carrier that will be irreplaceable for the foreseeable future, as no other element offers comparable properties for automotive battery applications. Accordingly, securing access to raw materials and the market is essential.
It is a different matter, for example, for cobalt: the percentage of this raw material is to be reduced from its present 12 to 14 percent (weight proportion in the cathode) to five percent within the next three to five years. Volkswagen is working on further development of cobalt-free batteries.