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Sat Jun 4, 2022, 08:11 PM

This California desert could hold the key to powering all of America's electric cars

The Salton Sea, which lies roughly in the middle of the massive geologic low point, isn't really a sea, at all. The largest inland lake in California, it's 51 miles long from north to south and 17 miles wide, but gradually shrinking as less and less water flows into it. At one time, it was a thriving entertainment and recreation spot, business that has also largely dried up. It's left behind abandoned buildings and shallow, gray beaches.


Over the past few years, companies have been coming here to extract a valuable metal, lithium, that the car industry needs as it shifts to making electric cars. Lithium is the lightest naturally occurring metal element on Earth, and, for that reason among others, it's important for electric car batteries, which must store a lot of electricity in a package that weighs as little as possible.

What's more, with the Salton Sea Basin's unique geography, engineers and technicians can get the lithium with minimal environmental destruction, according to companies that are working there. In other places, lithium is taken from the earth using hard rock mining that leaves huge, ugly scars in the land. Here, it exists naturally in a liquid form, so extraction doesn't require mining or blasting.

Over thousands of years, floodwaters from the Colorado River, carrying minerals pulled away from the Rocky Mountains, the Ruby Canyon, Glen Canyon, the Grand Canyon and more, have washed into these lowlands. Time and again the water has come and evaporated, leaving behind metals that have ended up deep in the ground.
Lithium is abundant in the Salton Sea Basin. In fact, people working to extract it say there could be enough to make batteries for all the electric cars expected to be built in this country for many years, freeing the United States from reliance on foreign lithium suppliers. That's been a priority for the Biden administration.


https://www.cnn.com/2022/05/11/business/salton-sea-lithium-extraction/index.html


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A few weeks old, but REALLY interesting!

If anyone previoulsy posted this, I missed it and I apologize!



15 replies, 2081 views

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Reply This California desert could hold the key to powering all of America's electric cars (Original post)
TeamProg Jun 2022 OP
Lovie777 Jun 2022 #1
niyad Jun 2022 #2
Wounded Bear Jun 2022 #3
Native Jun 2022 #4
highplainsdem Jun 2022 #5
Warpy Jun 2022 #6
NullTuples Jun 2022 #8
Warpy Jun 2022 #11
hunter Jun 2022 #10
NullTuples Jun 2022 #7
AllaN01Bear Jun 2022 #9
ripcord Jun 2022 #12
TeamProg Jun 2022 #13
ripcord Jun 2022 #14
NullTuples Jun 2022 #15

Response to TeamProg (Original post)

Sat Jun 4, 2022, 08:25 PM

1. I read this awhile ago . . .

and it's still is an interesting read.

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Response to TeamProg (Original post)

Sat Jun 4, 2022, 09:54 PM

2. Thank you.

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Response to TeamProg (Original post)

Sat Jun 4, 2022, 10:07 PM

3. K & R...nt

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Response to TeamProg (Original post)

Sat Jun 4, 2022, 10:35 PM

4. Thanks for this!

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Response to TeamProg (Original post)

Sat Jun 4, 2022, 10:37 PM

5. Great news!

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Response to TeamProg (Original post)

Sat Jun 4, 2022, 10:47 PM

6. Minimal environmental destruction?

The creation of the Salton Sea was a colossal "oops," an environmental disaster all its own. Initially, developers rushed in to build Califoirnia suburbia with a water view. Unfortunately, agricultural runoff creates blooms of nasty organisms and fish kills that soon drove out most of the people who actually got their houses built there.



The Salton Sea isn't supposed to be there.

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Response to Warpy (Reply #6)

Sat Jun 4, 2022, 10:50 PM

8. Wonderful video, thanks. If you've ever driven past or through...

...you'd wonder why it hasn't been renamed Lake Eerie.

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Response to NullTuples (Reply #8)

Sun Jun 5, 2022, 09:57 AM

11. There was another video I almost posted

showing what's happening now that the lake appears to be drying out for another long period, piles of fish skeletons and dried out barnacles along the shoreline. The dust that's picked up by the wind is full of heavy metals and other agricultural contaminants and it's really unhealthy to breathe.

My point was that a lithium mine in that kind of a human created death trap would not be the biggest environmental disaster.

A big, artifically created lake in the middle of the desert must've seemed like the best of all possible worlds in 1950. That was one weird as hell decade, everything was on the surface.

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Response to Warpy (Reply #6)

Sun Jun 5, 2022, 08:57 AM

10. The basin naturally cycles from full to empty as the Colorado River sweeps across its delta.

When the river flows north it fills the basin. This large lake eventually over-tops the delta and creates a channel to the Gulf of California.

This channel then fills with sediments sending the Colorado River back into the basin.

The filled basin has been named Lake Cahuilla. This lake last dried up sometime after 1580.

The poorly designed canal prematurely shifted the river's course north.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Cahuilla

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Response to TeamProg (Original post)

Sat Jun 4, 2022, 10:47 PM

7. Interesting paper on the extremophile organisms in the Salton Sea (link)


https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmicb.2019.00780/pdf

Plus it's not just minerals that end up there, but also massive amounts of pesticides & other chemicals from the Valley's farm industries.

Essentially the Salton Sea is so inhospitable to life it gives us the ability to map some of the edge conditions.

It would make me happy to see it become a building block toward saving the planet.

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Response to TeamProg (Original post)

Sat Jun 4, 2022, 11:03 PM

9. as mr.spock would say," fascinatinting"

brief history of the salton sea,,,,
he Salton Sea was created there in 1905 when the river breached a dike and flooded for two years, bringing farm settlers to the Imperial Valley in California's southeast corner. California's largest lake by surface area soon became a desert playground.

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Response to TeamProg (Original post)

Sun Jun 5, 2022, 10:05 AM

12. These projects are where the California government really pisses me off

This is without a doubt one of the poorest areas of the state, a responsible government would make training a large number of locals to work at the extraction plants a requirement for permits but California never does. You will see these high paying jobs go to people the company imports to the area.

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Response to ripcord (Reply #12)

Sun Jun 5, 2022, 11:16 AM

13. Oh, just Calif.? Seems like that is how hiring for large projects goes all over the country.. ?

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Response to TeamProg (Reply #13)

Sun Jun 5, 2022, 11:19 AM

14. I can only speak to California since that is where I live

But I expect more out of our politicians.

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Response to ripcord (Reply #12)

Sun Jun 5, 2022, 09:34 PM

15. I get the feeling that at this point Federalist 9th Circuit judges would say they can't...

...tell a corporation who it can hire, even though it's not breaking any anti-discrimination laws

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