Joe and Emily are joined in Los Angeles by the newly minted “geek squad,” the label intended as the ultimate compliment to four technical experts. All are veterans of the podcast.
We are guided through the lithium value chain from the ground to lithium chemicals to cathode and ultimately the battery. Dr. Tom Benson of Lithium Americas shares how lithium is formed inside the earth, and how the fact that lithium “Can’t Be Tamed” is what makes it so practical for batteries. Dr. Yuan Gao of Pulead and now a Lithium Americas Board Member takes us through extracting lithium from raw materials and making cathodes. Dr. Gao, or the “Lithium OG”, explains the concept of excess lithium and why it matters even more in a high nickel world. Dr. Dr. Rene LeBlanc of Lithium Americas explains how the process to separate lithium can be the reverse of how it’s formed, and shares how the physical separation process for the sedimentary material at Thacker Pass is like the process for extracting gold.. Dan Blondal of Nano One explains the different purposes served by cobalt, as a stabilizer of layered nickel structure or active material in LCO batteries.
We give a shout out to the Real Clear Politics discussion of Minerals: The Overlooked Foundations of our Future, where Emily was a panelist and felt like she knew the cool kids when Alexi Zawadski and Thacker Pass were name dropped by Carl Cannon, Executive Editor & Washington Bureau Chief of RealClearPolitics, as a carbon-neutral project.
Our guests close with what they experience as most misunderstood lithium myths, and as always we end with rapid fire questions.