General Motors has recently partnered with Controlled Thermal Resources (CTR), a growing lithium-mining and sustainable energy company. The partnership includes a substantial investment into the company’s lithium extraction process. What makes CTR’s extraction operations so appealing is the sustainable way that the alkali metal is removed from the Earth. This has positive implications for GM’s carbon-neutral by 2040 goal, the new Hummer EV, and the future of its electric vehicles.
What’s So Great About Controlled Thermal Resources?
GM is the first company to make a multi-million dollar investment into CTR and has secured the purchasing rights to lithium extracted during the first stage of mining. The sustainable extraction process will take place at CTR’s Hell’s Kitchen Lithium and Power plant, located in the Salton Sea Geothermal Field in Imperial Valley, California. Unlike traditional lithium removal, which involves invasive open-pit mining, CTR’s closed-loop process will involve extricating mineral brine from deep below the Earth’s surface, removing the lithium, and then pumping the brine back down to its natural geothermal reservoir. This method uses a small amount of space and according to Controlled Thermal Resources, leaves a near-zero carbon footprint.
General Motors Is In It For The Long Haul
While GM will still source lithium for EV batteries from major producers like China, Australia, and Argentina, their goal is claiming a major stake in the highly-mineralized, lithium-rich resource body that is the Salton Sea Geothermal Field. The move is yet another part of GM’s $35 billion dollar EV investment. We’ve already seen the $2.2 billion dollar conversion project that GM is undertaking to reconfigure the Detroit-Hamtramck factory into “Factory Zero”, where the flagship Hummer EV will be produced. Let’s not forget about the new Ultium Charge 360 Network either.
And GM really is going to need a whole lot of lithium to power a whole lot of big, burly battery-powered machines. Case in point, all of the 9,000-plus-pound 2022 Hummer EV Edition 1 allotment is completely spoken for, as is the case for the SUV version. We know that a Chevrolet Silverado EV is coming in a few years, and the Cadillac Lyriq is already on our doorstep.
Serious questions have arisen over the efficacy of electric vehicles due to their far reaching, global supply chain that’s hard on the environment, the overall global supply of these materials, as well as the ethical quandaries to the means of which rare earth minerals needed for batteries are acquired. This new partnership between General Motors and America’s Controlled Thermal Resources is therefore a massive step in the right direction.