Human Suffering and Environmental Devastation: The high cost of recharging your smart phone with lithium-ion batteries
As The Promise of InCharge™, Part I noted, today’s chemical-based, lithium-ion batteries are slow to recharge electronic devices. Part II explores an even darker side to lithium-ion batteries—the race to extract the mineral is wreaking havoc around the globe.
The insatiable demand for lithium for the production of lithium-ion batteries has left a wide path of human suffering and environmental destruction in its wake from South America to Afghanistan. Is there a solution? One positive step in that direction is Signet’s InCharge™, which does not rely on lithium-ion batteries to provide energy. InCharge™ is a chemically free, patented, compact and lightweight magnetic solid-state energy source technology that holds promise to revolutionize the global energy market in a meaningful way.
The importance of lithium in the modern world cannot be understated. The minerals are considered critical by world powers. Unfortunately, the race to ensure access to reserves has been linked to human rights abuses, conflicts, coups, corruption, and environmental destruction. Local populations are being tossed aside in the mad “white gold” rush for lithium.
Though lithium has significant industrial and pharmaceutical applications, it’s viewed as key to developing new technologies and an essential component required for modern applications of energy. Approximately 40% of lithium production is consumed by batteries. With the development and advances in the electric vehicle vehicle (EV)—the average EV uses 44 pounds of lithium—and the proposed green energy grids, the projected demand for lithium is expected to skyrocket. And with it, where the reserves in developing nations are located, lithium-related conflicts are rising and presenting unexpected challenges.
The largest reserves are in the so called lithium triangle, in the lakes of the altiplano of Argentina, Chile and Bolivia. The region holds over 70% of the known world supply. Accessing it has come with a price.
Lithium production in Bolivia is more about extraction difficulties and technological barriers, but with the construction of the Llipi Plant, a lithium production factory scheduled to open this year, at least some barriers to extraction have been removed.
In Peru, a vast deposit of hard-rock lithium carbonate was recently discovered in an archeologically rich yet exceptionally poor region along the border of Bolivia and Lake Titicaca. With it comes a realistic apprehension of the consequences of opening up the region to a lithium megaproject. There is hope for breaking the cycle of poverty but also the sad history of commercial exploitation, property redistribution, and environmental destruction. Ground and water pollution from mining operations not only carry a high environmental cost, but water is diverted from agricultural production, causing water shortages that can lead to food shortages.
In Afghanistan, the lingering US presence there has long evolved beyond a war on terror to include tapping into the estimated $1-$3 trillion mineral wealth buried in the country. Scientific surveys by Russia from the Soviet occupation of the 1980s had revealed the country’s mineral wealth. The treasure trove of old Soviet mining charts led the USGS (United States Geological Survey) to conduct the largest geological survey of Afghanistan ever undertaken in 2004. The finds were staggering, with estimates that the country holds enormous mineral wealth and the largest supply of lithium in the world. An internal Pentagon memo from 2007 stated that the country could become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium.” Vast lithium reserves and other minerals such as gold, copper, platinum, and rare earth elements has undoubtedly been a guide for US policy with officials are eyeing mining Afghanistan’s mineral wealth to offset the $2 trillion cost of the war since 2001.
The reliance on lithium to produce the rechargeable batteries that power smart phones, laptops, electric vehicles (EV) and nearly every electronic device has come at a high cost in human suffering and environmental devastation. It’s as much about the disruption to ecosystems as it is about exploiting people to transfer their wealth out from under them at any cost.
Signet’s InCharge™ energy source cannot prevent human rights abuses or environmental destruction. It can, however, provide a new way to charge your cell phone and laptop. More importantly, experimental analyses has shown that InCharge™ energy packs can be tailored to provide fabrication methods that will adjust to industry scale, i.e., our development plans include powering your EV’s, too, and has potential applications for energy grids.
InCharge™ is a patented, compact magnetic-based energy source that produces energy in a novel way. As a new energy source, InCharge™ holds promise to revolutionize the global energy market, along with other energy-based applications. Because the main idea of the innovation is to use magnetic nanoparticles as a source of energy, it does not rely on lithium, nor the exploitation of people or the environment to produce it.