It sounds like the plot to the next sci-fi action movie (maybe with a cameo by Elon Musk), but it’s as real as the solar panels on your roof: the future of batteries may be found at the bottom of the ocean.Gerard Barron, CEO and Chairman of DeepGreen, recently wrote an article for North American Clean Energy magazine talking about the exciting work his company is doing to fuel (pun intended) the U.S.’s potential rise to power in the battery industry.
Barron’s company produces metals from polymetallic rocks to power electric vehicles and other clean energy technologies, and he warns that the U.S. is woefully behind right now in the battery game. We’re highly dependent on foreign sources for the raw metals needed for battery technology (substances like nickel, cobalt, manganese and copper), importing more than half our annual consumption in 31 of 35 important minerals. But getting ahead could be messy and bad for the environment. Digging ever deeper and wider for precious metals exacts a heavy environmental toll. If only these precious resources were easier to access…
And they are… in the ocean.
Barron notes that polymetallic nodules lie loose on the seabed in international waters, offering a rare opportunity to source battery metals without the environmental impact of mining. (It should be noted that terrestrial metal deposits are often found in the world’s most biodiverse regions that also serve as repositories for massive stores of carbon that we don’t want unleashed into the atmosphere).
Not only that, but all four of the metals required for EVs can be found in rich quantities in a single undersea ore. “It’s akin to having an electric vehicle battery in a rock,” Barron writes. And, unlike with terrestrial mining, these ocean-bound minerals don’t exist alongside toxic elements like arsenic and mercury that must be forever stored in tailing dams that, over time, tend to fail, causing deaths, poisoning land, and destroying homes and communities.
It’s a brand new day, and the U.S. has an opportunity to become a leader in the battery industry in a responsible and sustainable way. That’s exciting!
Now let’s go dive for batteries.