Issue: Mar 2011


AmeriLithium Provides Update on Lithium Usage in the Auto Industry & Future Applications



by Jon Knox

AmeriLithium provides an update on Lithium's growing industrial significance, particularly in the automotive industry. The update reviews the latest developments in the increasing demand for Lithium; electric vehicle sales and offerings; the superior performance of Lithium-ion batteries; the need for America to ensure it can compete in emerging energy-related industries; infrastructure preparations being made for electric vehicles in the U.S.; and emerging Lithium applications and technologies.

"It's understandably exciting to constantly see headlines in the news pointing to the growing importance of Lithium in today's world," said AmeriLithium CEO Matthew Worrall. "And this latest market update only represents a fraction of the stories out there pointing to the key role that will be played by both Lithium and those companies that can successfully produce and supply Lithium to a hungry market, especially within the U.S., as AmeriLithium is working toward every day."

INDUSTRY DEMAND FOR LITHIUM

On Feb. 18, 2011 two influential American scientific groups - the American Physical Society and the Materials Research Society - released a report that lists Lithium among a group of critical metals and elements threatened by major shortages. The report indicates that, though technologies for green or renewable-energy devices like batteries are becoming increasingly dependent on these materials, global production is not keeping pace with demand in many cases.(1) Echoing that claim is news that industry-leading Lithium producer Talison, which controls nearly 75% of the Chinese market, will ramp up production in 2011 by 100% to keep up with what is referred to as "a huge increase in demand."(2)

According to analyst house Core Consultants MD, over the next decade, new developments in the market will continue to create an increase of demand for Lithium.(3) A Feb. 17, 2011 article in the China Economic Review points to Lithium becoming an "increasingly essential part of the economy in the next decade" due to production growth of electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrid electric vehicles both in China and around the world.(2)

Not surprisingly, Core Consultants MD also forecasts that the next decade will also represent an increase in the supply of Lithium, especially with many international mining companies already developing projects that could position them to benefit from Lithium resources in various locations around the world,(3) AmeriLithium not only being among those companies, but having taken substantial steps toward establishing domestic production of Lithium.

ELECTRIC VEHICLE SALES & OFFERINGS

A recent article in MIT's Technology Review quoted CEO Kang Sun of Amprius - a battery startup that has developed Lithium-based batteries capable of storing twice as much energy as any other battery currently on the market - as saying, "We are in a hurry, because electrification is moving forward faster than anyone thought." (4) Sales-related numbers from the auto industry support that claim:

-- One in five cars sold in the Berkeley area in California are Toyota
Priuses(5)
-- Nissan collected 6,635 pre-orders within the first 72 hours that its
all-electric Leaf was on sale(6)
-- Nissan reduced the number of Leaf demos it supplied to dealers by 50% in
order to fill more sales for the $32,780 car that is also eligible for a
$7,500 federal tax credit(7)
-- As of Feb. 21, 2011, Nissan had stopped taking new orders for the Leaf
due to struggling to build the cars fast enough to fill existing orders;
the company had only managed to supply 10,000 of the 27,000 units
ordered at that time(8)
-- Even in the luxury class, Tesla Motors, maker of the $100,000
all-electric sports car, has sold 150 models(5)

In response to the demand for all-electric and electric hybrid vehicles, automakers around the world are either advancing their current offerings or entering the market for the first time. Toyota is looking to build on the success of its Prius - the best selling hybrid vehicle - by launching a Lithium-ion based plug-in Prius in 2012.(9) General Motors, in a joint effort with its GM Daewoo subsidiary and Lithium-ion cell maker LG Chem and LG Electronics, is testing its all-electric Chevrolet Cruze in the Korean market; the new offering represents a projected range of up to 100 miles, acceleration of 0 to 62 mph in 8.2 seconds, a maximum speed of just over 100 mph, and a recharge time of 8 to 10 hours (GM is also planning to test a high-voltage, quick-charging application for the car).(10)

The alliance between Renault and Nissan, meanwhile, is predicting that electric vehicles will account for up to 10% of the global market by 2020, and is spending $5.25 billion on its zero-emissions program in order to capture as much of the emerging market as possible. By the end of 2012, Renault will have launched four different sized electric vehicles to fit any vehicle-based lifestyle.(11) Not to be left out, BMW, which introduced its all-electric MegaCity vehicle in 2010, and has been running a global field test of its Lithium-ion powered, all-electric MINI Cooper since 2009, announced in Q4 2010 that it would invest euro 400 million in its future EV model lineup.(12) Even Rolls Royce is joining the green revolution, having developed an experimental all-electric version of its prestigious Phantom model that, according to insiders, has a range of between 120 and 150 miles.(13)

SUPERIOR LITHIUM-ION PERFORMANCE

The new generation of electric and hybrid vehicles is turning to the superior performance of Lithium-ion batteries, characterized by less weight, larger capacity and easier charging.(2) In the case of Renault, all of the automaker's electric vehicles are powered by a latest-generation Lithium-ion battery that, when compared with former-generation nickel metal hydride batteries, provide superior range, performance, reliability and safety. According to Renault, their Lithium-ion battery takes between 6 and 8 hours to charge; can be charged to 80% capacity with a 20-minute fast charge; and provides a range of 100 miles in such new models as the Kangoo Van Z.E., which will go on sale in 2011.(11) Similarly, the Lithium-ion battery in the Nissan's Leaf takes about 8 hours to charge; can be charged to 80% in just 30 minutes using a special quick charger; and provides a range of up to 100 miles on a single charge.(6)

Renault also points out that, unlike former nickel-cadmium batteries, Lithium-ion batteries do not present any danger to the environment, and are recyclable due to being made up of non-toxic materials such as Lithium, manganese oxide or iron phosphate, and graphite.(11)

ELECTRIC VEHICLES, LITHIUM & AMERICA

In response to the growing importance of new energy-related technologies, the formerly mentioned report by the American Physical Society and the Materials Research Society called on the U.S. government to take steps to ensure America can compete in the emerging global energy industries. Prior to the report's release, a Senate bill was introduced that called for federal money to train people to work in the field of advanced materials, such as Lithium.(1)

Nissan, meanwhile, is currently building a new battery facility in Smyrna, Tennessee. The plant will go online in 2012, at which time it will produce 200,000 Lithium-ion battery packs per year for the automaker's all-electric Leaf.(7) As of Feb. 21, 2011, Nissan was also working to get its international factories operating at full demand, which could lead to the Leaf being built in both England and at Nissan's U.S. based factory in Tennessee.(8)

INFRASTRUCTURE PREPARATIONS

As of Q3 2010, the Renault-Nissan alliance was working with 60 governments to prepare communities for the emergence of plug-in vehicles.(11) In particular, Nissan's efforts to build electric-car infrastructure in the U.S. have already included working with local authorities in Phoenix-Tucson, Oregon, San Diego, Seattle and Tennessee.(6) In San Francisco, building codes were adopted in anticipation of the 2010 release of the Lithium-ion powered Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt, requiring all new homes and offices to be wired for electric car chargers; local authorities also launched a lending scheme to encourage owners of existing homes to install their own charging stations. Other U.S. cities preparing for electric vehicles include Houston and Portland.(5)

At the commercial level, Best Buy announced in Q4 2010 that twelve of its stores would feature Ecototality charging stations for electric vehicles by March 2011 as part of an effort to develop fueling infrastructure for electric cars in the U.S. Some of the Best Buy locations will feature Ecototality's fast-charging station - the Ecototality Blink DC - which uses direct current to provide what the company calls a "safe and meaningful charge" in 15 minutes.(14) An alternate solution to U.S. based electric vehicle infrastructure are solar-powered charging stations, such as the 100 solar-powered parking spots that employees at Google can use to charge one of the Google-owned Toyota Priuses.(5)

EMERGING LITHIUM APPLICATIONS & TECHNOLOGIES

Beyond Lithium-ion powered cars, the batteries are increasingly being used in various modes of environmentally-friendly transportation, including bicycles, scooters and motorcycles, all of which Best Buy is planning to sell.(14) It is also expected that demand for Lithium-ion power solutions will continue to grow across all market segments as battery technology advances even further. On that front, and as mentioned above, battery startup company Amprius has developed Lithium-ion batteries capable of storing twice as much energy as any other battery currently on the market. According to Amprius, the batteries will allow portable electronics to operate 40% longer on a single charge. The company is also working with several major automakers to evaluate the use of the batteries in electric vehicles.(4)

Alternate Lithium-based battery technologies, meanwhile, represent the potential for even greater advances. The still-experimental Lithium-air battery, for example, could significantly increase the range of electric vehicles due to its high energy density. Researchers estimate Lithium-air batteries could hold between 5 to 10 times the energy of Lithium-ion batteries of the same weight, and 2 times the energy for the same volume. While the technology probably won't be commercially available for several years due to still facing some significant challenges - including increasing the number of times the batteries can be recharged, and decreasing the time needed for recharging - proponents of the Lithium-air battery point out that Lithium-ion batteries were first proposed in the 1970s but were not commercialized until 1997.(15)

More information on the significance of Lithium to the auto industry and emerging technologies, and additional information regarding the Company, can be found at AmeriLithium's corporate website www.amerilithium.com along with the facility to sign up for regular news updates.

ABOUT LITHIUM: Lithium is a lightweight metal used in a wide range of consumer products the world over: the medical industry uses Lithium as an anti-depressant; industrial uses include glass, ceramic and porcelain enamel manufacture; the aviation industry uses Lithium in alloys. Of particular interest is the use of Lithium for battery production, which has expanded significantly in recent years due to rechargeable Lithium batteries being used increasingly in electrical tools and in the rapidly expanding portable electronics market. Furthermore, the next generation of hybrid and electric vehicles are being designed to use high-capacity Lithium-ion batteries as environmentally-friendly fuel alternatives while the Obama administration has introduced $5 billion in funding and incentives for the development of a secure, domestic battery industry with special focus on Lithium-ion batteries.

ABOUT AMERILITHIUM: AmeriLithium is a publicly traded (NASD OTC BB: AMEL), mining company committed to progressively developing into one of the leading American players in the global Lithium industry. The Company is headquartered in Henderson, NV. AmeriLithium has amassed a Lithium portfolio consisting of ~724,000 acres, including three Nevada-based projects nearby the only Lithium producing plant in the US, a large project in Alberta, Canada, and a project in Western Australia.


(1) New York Times website, Feb. 18, 2011
(2) China Economic Review website, Feb. 17, 2011
(3) Mining Weekly website, Jan. 21, 2011
(4) MIT's Technology Review website, Sept. 17, 2010
(5) HomeBrewPower.co.uk website, Feb. 25, 2011
(6) AutoGuide website, May 25, 2011
(7) Auto Blog website, Nov. 19, 2010
(8) AutoGuide website, Feb. 21, 2011
(9) FavStocks.com website, Sept. 27, 2010
(10) All Cars Electric website, Sept. 18, 2010
(11) AutoBlog.com, Sept. 17, 2010
(12) Crazy4Cars.co.uk website, Nov. 18, 2010
(13) TheSun.co.uk website, Feb. 19, 2011
(14) Cnet News website, Oct. 11, 2010
(15) Physorg.com website, Feb. 1, 2011

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