GM Looks to Source Lithium in U.S. to Advance EV Battery Production, Lower Carbon Emissions

General Motors Co. in Detroit has formed a strategic investment and commercial collaboration with California-based Controlled Thermal Resources to secure local, low-cost lithium through a closed-loop, direct extraction process that results in a smaller physical footprint, no production tailing, and lower carbon emissions compared to traditional methods.
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A GM employee works on an Ultium battery cell through a glass shield. The company has partnered with California-based Controlled Thermal Resources to begin sourcing its lithium in the U.S. // Courtesy of GM
A GM employee works on an Ultium battery cell through a glass shield. The company has partnered with California-based Controlled Thermal Resources to begin sourcing its lithium in the U.S. // Courtesy of GM

General Motors Co. in Detroit has formed a strategic investment and commercial collaboration with California-based Controlled Thermal Resources to secure local, low-cost lithium through a closed-loop, direct extraction process that results in a smaller physical footprint, no production tailing, and lower carbon emissions compared to traditional methods.

A significant amount of GM’s future battery-grade lithium hydroxide and carbonate could be sources from CTR’s Hell’s Kitchen Lithium and Power development in the Salton Sea Geothermal Field located in Imperial, California.

“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,” says Doug Parks, GM executive vice president of global product development, purchasing and supply chain. “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.”

As part of the recently announced $35 billion global commitment to EVs and autonomous vehicles, GM will be the first company to make a multi-million-dollar investment in the Hell’s Kitchen project. GM will have first rights to the lithium — which will be extracted from geothermal brine using CTR’s direct extraction process — with an option for a multi-year contract.

Batteries are one of the largest cost drivers in the EB market. Lithium is used in cathodes and electrolytes of GM EVs like the Chevrolet Bolt EV and Bolt EUV. Most lithium used in batteries is currently mined and processed outside of the U.S. The first stage of the Hell’s Kitchen project is expected to begin yielding lithium in 2024.

This is part of the company’s target of eliminating tailpipe emissions by 2035, along with its net-zero emissions goal for the company and its supply chain, which was announced in January of this year.

GMs Ultium battery is at the center of the company’s all-electric future, powering future mass market and high-performance vehicles. The company says although EVs do not have tailpipe emissions, it is important that they are charged using energy produced by wind, solar, and other renewable sources.

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