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Lead pencils play role in world’s energy transition

April 2023
The lead used in pencils has a major role to play in the world’s transition from fossil fuel energy to clean electric power. Sort of.

needed in the batteries of electric vehicles are made from graphite, which is actually the same stuff used as lead in pencils.

Demand for graphite is surging because more governments, businesses and individuals are buying things like electric vehicles to end the world’s dependency on fossil fuels.

The supply of graphite is not growing as fast as the demand from battery manufacturers. Also, China controls more than 90% of the graphite supply.

To decrease their dependance on graphite and China, researchers are looking for ways to make anodes using other materials.

For example, Finnish company Stora Enso is working to developed a material from plant-based lignin.

Still, so far graphite remains the best material available for anodes, reports The Economist.

so what?
Electrification, iow the world’s transition to engines powered by electricity instead of fossil fuels, is eating up metals and minerals.

The scarcity of metals is a huge challenge. Mining the materials needed to produce electric vehicles is becoming more expensive. Also, mining can be dirty and destructive both for nature and the communities near mines.

Reference shelf:
Firms search for greener supplies of graphite for EV batteries (The Economist)

Shortage of Metals for EVs Is Rising Up the Agenda in Automakers’ C-Suites (Bloomberg)

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