GM to Source U.S.-Based Lithium for Next-Gen EV Batteries

General Motors announced a multi-million dollar strategic investment in and commercial collaboration with Controlled Thermal Resources (CTR) to source locally extracted, low-cost lithium in a press release on Friday.

At its Hell’s Kitchen Lithium and Power development in the Salton Sea Geothermal Field, located in Imperial, California, CTR is working on a closed-loop process to directly extract lithium from geothermal brine.

CTR’s process will eliminate production trailing, have a smaller physical footprint, and boast lower carbon emissions as compared to conventional lithium extraction methods like pit mining and evaporation ponds.

GM is the first to make a multi-million dollar investment in the Hell’s Kitchen project. The investment comes as part of GM’s plans to up its investment in electric and autonomous vehicle technology to $35 billion USD.

As its first investor, GM will get first crack at the lithium produced during the first stage of the Hell’s Kitchen project, along with an option for a multi-year relationship.

“Lithium is critical to battery production today and will only become more important as consumer adoption of EVs increases, and we accelerate towards our all-electric future,” said Doug Parks, Executive Vice President of Global Product Development, Purchasing, and Supply Chain at General Motors.

“By securing and localizing the lithium supply chain in the U.S., we’re helping ensure our ability to make powerful, affordable, high mileage EVs while also helping to mitigate environmental impact and bring more low-cost lithium to the market as a whole. GM looks forward to working with CTR, in addition to state and local leaders, in achieving these goals,” he added.

Lithium is an integral component of the lithium-ion batteries that power today’s electric vehicles (EVs). Right now, most of the EV industry’s lithium comes from outside the U.S., from places like Australia.

General Motors hopes that a successful venture with CTR will help expedite an industry-wide transition to lithium extraction methods that have less of a negative impact on the environment and are more environmentally responsible.

Stage one of CTR’s Hell’s Kitchen project is slated to begin yielding lithium in 2024, just in time to aid General Motors in its quest to go all-electric across its catalog by 2035.