The underbelly of electric cars: Where all those EV batteries come from

The underbelly of electric cars: Where all those EV batteries come from

While electric vehicles are essential to reducing carbon emissions, their production can exact a significant human and environmental cost. To run, EVs require six times the mineral input, by weight, of conventional vehicles.

These minerals, including cobalt, nickel, lithium and manganese, are finite resources. And mining and processing them can be harmful for workers, their communities and the local environment.

Projections show global EV sales surpassing gas-vehicle sales before 2040.

The trend is expected to greatly reduce emissions from transportation, which now represent 14 percent of the global total each year.

As the demand for EVs rises, so will the demand for the minerals inside their batteries.

Your EV might look like a normal sedan or SUV from the outside.

But underneath the floor of your car is an approximately 900-pound battery block containing materials that have been mined from the ground, sent around the world and put through complex chemical processing to fuel your ride from point A to point B.

“If you are going to take a look at any source of energy, you always will have some trade-offs,” said Sergey Paltsev, a senior research scientist at MIT. “There is no magic solution.”

One of the most common batteries on the road, the NMC, used by companies including Volkswagen, Mercedes and Nissan, contains significant amounts of aluminum, nickel, cobalt, manganese and lithium.

But while batteries may vary in composition, they generally rely on the same set of materials.

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