Satellites detecting changes in trees from space could help identify potential “hotspots” of lithium situated underground in Cornwall, researchers have said.
Global demand for lithium, a vital component in “next generation” batteries for electric vehicles and storage for renewable power, is expected to grow by around 400% by 2025.
Lithium in hot brine springs in Cornwall could provide the UK with a domestic source of the metal, which has been described as “the new gasoline” due to its potential to help in the shift to low-carbon energy supplies.
Now a study has shown that satellites can detect changes in vegetation and surface minerals, which, when combined with geological data, could indicate potential locations of lithium in the county once famous for its tin mines.
This kind of remote sensing could significantly cut the cost of lithium exploration and also reduce the environmental impact of mining by better targeting prospective sites, the team behind the research said.