How Nickel Worries Tesla


What Does Nickel Have To Do With Batteries

Nickel is a main component in EV batteries. EV companies including Tesla anticipate the demand to outstrip supply of class-one nickel in a few years. Demand for nickel for lithium-ion batteries is expected to reach 1.8 million tons by 2030

Surging Prices of Nickel

You thought gold is awesome? If you ignore the panic raise of gold due to 2020 corona virus situation, Nickel (62% gains) has performed a lot better than gold (37% gains). In the last 5 years, investing in nickel mining cos would have been better than investing in gold.

How Bad Is The Price Surge?

If nickel prices keep raising this way, we will soon have trouble getting nickel for steel. And yes, US Mint will soon have to stop minting the 5 cent coin that has 25% nickel! Cost of nickel in the coin will be way above its value.

What is Tesla Doing About It?

Elon musk asks miners to produce more nickel. He offers long term purchase contracts as he feels the price of batteries is one of the key factors preventing Tesla from scaling into main stream auto market.

Can These Batteries Be Repurposed?

Nickel in batteries can be efficiently recycled. EV batteries when they reach end of life in a car, can be repurposed for home / industrial electrical storage extending its life.

Recycling Batteries

4.4 million tons of metals from cathodes of batteries are expected to reach end of lives by 2030 and become available for recycle. If we do not setup facilities to recycle properly, all these precious metals will end up in landfills.

Are EVs More Harmful To The Planet Because Of All The Mining?

Electric Vehicles’ green credentials are under question considering the environmental damage caused by all the nickel mining. In one instance, companies had to distance themselves from cobalt mines in Congo due to human rights abuses in the mines. Jury is still out on the exact carbon foot print of an EV compared to IC engine vehicles.

Production Of Nickel

Indonesia is one of the largest producers of Nickel. EV companies are getting involved at mining levels to ensure environmental costs are kept low so that they can continue to be looked at for their green credentials.

Alternatives For Nickel

Multiple efforts are on to make batteries without expensive components like Nickel and Cobalt. One example is Potassium metal battery. Researchers from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have found ways to solve problems such as dendrites or plaque that form in these batteries. Hopefully someday we will move away from nickel into more widely available metals for batteries.

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Image Credits:
Photo by Andreas Dress on Unsplash
Photo by Dario on Unsplash
By Mahkota Konaweeha – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, here
By Materialscientist at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, here
By United States Mint – here
By Daniel Oberhaus – Self-photographed, CC BY-SA 4.0, here
By דוד שי – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, here
By Dr. Tzeferis Peter – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, here


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