Missing job opportunity New hybrid auto batteries

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As we shift to hybrid technology vehicles, once again the USA lacks the natural resources to create jobs in America. Specifically the raw materials for nickel metal hydride (NiMH) and lithium-ion batteries used in the new hybrid automobiles.

Stratfor reports that “lithium-ion batteries will become the standard in the near future. Underpinning this shift is the simple fact that NiMH batteries are heavy and their energy per unit of mass is approximately half that of a lithium-ion battery.”

They go on to say that “Currently, most companies that can supply lithium-ion batteries for vehicles are joint ventures between auto manufacturers and technology firms. Of these, seven are based in Japan, two are in the United States, two are in Korea and one is in China. These few producers rely on even fewer suppliers for the components — primarily the anodes, cathodes, separator and electrolytic salt — of lithium-ion batteries. The most specialized step in the process is the production of the electrolytic salt used in lithium-ion batteries. That salt (lithium hexafluorophosphate) is produced only in Japan at two complexes, one in Okayama prefecture and the other in Osaka prefecture.”


Stratfor estimates that “70 percent of the world’s lithium chloride (LiCl) deposits are found in South America. Chile is the world’s largest producer of LiCl — not only because Chile already has highly developed mining, transport and processing infrastructure, but because its climate and geography are favorable for the evaporation that is central to producing lithium. ”

Gilbert note: While this post is not to serve as a science class or investment inducement, it does confirm that while going to hybrid battery technology is a step forward in reducing our insatiable demand for imported crude and reduction in carbon emissions, this new technology will not have a sizable impact on job creation in the USA.

It has been reported that worldwide production  of automobiles in 2009 will approach 52 million. If 10% of the cars produced in 2010 or 2011 are hybrids that’s a sizable number of batteries and new jobs for someone.

About Larry Gilbert