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Saturday, January 29, 2022

Why did Bill Gates invest in this small start-up that converts lithium into batteries?

Bill Gates invest in this small start-up

Key Takeaways:

  • Breakthrough Energy Ventures recently invested in Mangrove Lithium, a tiny lithium processing start-up that has yet to profit.
  • Mangrove claims that its electrochemical process can significantly increase yields.The request for lithium is expected to rise due to the increased demand for batteries for electric vehicles.

Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Bill Gates’ investment fund, recently invested $10 million in Mangrove Lithium, a seven-person start-up with no revenue and no customers.

It’s a slot investment, but its founders hope to improve a particular part of the lithium supply chain: converting raw lithium into battery material. Lithium is used in electric vehicle batteries because it is the lightest metal and has the highest charge-to-weight ratio, essential when designing a mortar for transportation.

According to the IEA, the number of electric vehicles on the road has risen rapidly over the last decade, surpassing 10 million globally.

Bill Gates invest in converts lithium into batteries start-up; Image from CNBC News

As the request for electric vehicles grows, so will the need for lithium.

Andrew Miller, chief operating officer of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, a market intelligence company for the lithium-ion battery to electric vehicle supply chain, growth in the number and size of electric vehicles will account for 90% of lithium demand by 2030.

Demand for lithium carbonate counterpart is expected to rise from 354,000 metric tons in 2020 to 2.57 million metric excesses by 2030.

According to Miller, that demand may be challenging to meet, not because the quantity of lithium is fixed but because there are limited resources for converting that lithium into a form that the battery industry can use.

Mangrove aims to assist in removing that bottleneck.

“Competitive technology for producing battery-grade lithium compounds is in high demand,” Celine Buchel, a principal research analyst in chemicals, minerals, also mining at market research firm IHS Markit, explains. “To meet the tremendous market for battery-powered vehicles, new production capacities must be built.”

Source: CNBC News

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