Tesla has taken its first step towards refining enough lithium to power one million electric cars per year in Texas.
CEO Elon Musk this week broke ground on a lithium refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas, ahead of its planned completion in 2024, and production ramp-up in 2025.
Mr Musk was flanked by Texas governor Greg Abbott at the groundbreaking ceremony, and arrived in a heavily accessorised Cybertruck ute.
Speaking at the event, Musk said “a fundamental choke point in the advancement of electric vehicles is the availability of battery grade lithium”.
“We can expect to produce lithium for about a million vehicles and produce more battery grade lithium than the rest of North American refining capacity combined,” he told media at the event.
“We’ve got a number of innovations that we think will be quite effective in the refining of the lithium that haven’t been done before,” Musk said.
Tesla says the refining process is designed to be cleaner than existing methods, by aiming to eliminate a “challenging refinery byproduct” known as sodium sulfate.
“Instead, the byproduct is a mixture of sand & calcium carbonate—a viable additive in the production of construction materials, allowing us to make use of this waste stream,” the brands says.
“In the future, we will also process other intermediate lithium feedstocks, including those from recycled batteries & manufacturing scrap.”