Sourcing EV battery metals from deep sea claims 90% carbon footprint reduction (Financial Express – September 21, 2020)

As the world rushes to replace internal combustion engines with electric vehicle batteries, a study suggests that polymetallic rocks found on the deep-ocean floor can be a source for hundreds of millions of tonnes of EV battery metals with dramatically lower climate impact than mining ores on land.

The study published in the Journal of Cleaner Production does a comparative life cycle assessment of battery sources, quantifying the direct and indirect emissions, disruptions to carbon sequestration services realised in the mining, processing, and refining of battery metals.

The carbon intensity of producing metals like nickel led to mounting interest in finding low-carbon metal sources, along with a plea by Tesla’s Elon Musk that promised “a giant contract” for nickel mined “efficiently and in an environmentally sensitive way.”

While electric car makers like Tesla and Polestar lead the movement for bringing transparency throughout the automotive industry and reveal the lifetime carbon footprints of their cars, the new study goes beyond considering carbon emissions from human operations to look at the disruption of ecosystem carbon sequestration services caused by changes in land and seabed used to produce battery metals.

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