These days, most batteries electric vehicles are powered by cobalt-based batteries. The onshore reserves of this heavy metal are dwindling and more electric car sales will mean global demand for cobalt will surpass supply next year. Now an MIT team claims they’ve found an alternative. According to New Scientist, the MIT engineers have developed an ingenious gadget that uses a beach ball-like apparatus dangling from abandoned oceanic oil rigs to possibly absorb enough cobalt to build hundreds of thousands of batteries for electric cars like Teslas.
The team’s research, recently published in the journal Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, explores how the world is poised for a possible cobalt shortage as soon as the early 2020s triggering logistical problems that could encumber the emerging electric car movement.
The study reveals that the ocean contains 70 times more cobalt than land and just 76 Gulf of Mexico oil rigs outfitted with their novel cobalt-absorbing devices could potentially absorb as much dissolved cobalt material from the brine as was used in battery manufacturing in 2017, per the study.
New Scientist reports that the new technique appears to be scientifically sound but is still too expensive to be useful at scale. But with possible reduction in costs by making the cobalt-absorbing orbs from recycled plastic etc. could make the project financially viable.