General Studies IGeneral Studies IIIScience and Tech

India looks at lithium reserves in Argentina, Chile and Bolivia

Context: India, through a state-owned company Khanij Bidesh India Ltd, has signed a pact with an Argentine firm to jointly prospect lithium in Argentina.

The new company, Khanij Bidesh India Ltd — incorporated in August, 2019 by three state-owned companies, NALCO, Hindustan Copper and Mineral Exploration Ltd, with a specific mandate to acquire strategic mineral assets such as lithium and cobalt abroad — is also learnt to be exploring options in Chile and Bolivia, two other top lithium-producing countries.

Lithium is a crucial building block of the lithium-ion rechargeable batteries that power electric vehicles (EVs), laptops and mobile phones.

Currently, India is heavily dependent on import of these cells and the move to ink sourcing pacts for lithium is also seen as a move to reduce its dependency on China which is a key source of both the raw material and cells.

India is seen as a late mover as it attempts to enter the lithium value chain, coming at a time when Electric Vehicles are predicted to be a sector ripe for disruption.

2021 is likely to be a turning point for battery technology, with several potential improvements to the Li-ion technology, and alternatives to this tried-and-tested formulation, under advanced stages of commercialisation.

About Li-ion Batteries:

A lithium-ion battery or Li-ion battery is a type of rechargeable battery.

Li-ion batteries use an intercalated (Intercalation is the reversible inclusion or insertion of a molecule into materials with layered structures) lithium compound as one electrode material, compared to the metallic lithium used in a non-rechargeable lithium battery.

The battery consists of electrolyte, which allows for ionic movement, and the two electrodes are the constituent components of a lithium-ion battery cell.

Lithium ions move from the negative electrode to the positive electrode during discharge and back when charging.

Lithium-ion Battery Applications:

Electronic gadgets, Tele-communication, Aerospace, Industrial applications.

Lithium-ion battery technology has made it the favourite power source for electric and hybrid electric vehicles.


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