Vanadium Production in the United States Key to Future Energy Technologies

Date: Jan 11, 2019

Vanadium production in the United States could play a strategic role in the powerful nation’s economy and national security plans.

Vanadium is essential to steel and emerging energy storage markets and is now deemed a critical mineralby the Trump administration. The US produces very little of its own domestic supply of mined vanadium, and this could pose a security problem for not only industry but national security as well.

Though recent softness in the global economy is starting to increase the risk of a global downturn, long-term prospects for vanadium demand in the coming decades are quite positive. Currently, about 90 percent of vanadium is used in the manufacturing of steel products like axles, tools and rebar. It is used to harden steel products and has significant potential as a component of energy storage solutions.

Electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing and related battery components are anticipated to surge in the coming decades. According to BloombergNEF, as many as 30 million EVs could be on global roads by 2030. In light of this, Wood Mackenzie has indicated that when EV battery production doubles, costs will then fall by 5 to 8 percent. They also anticipate battery demand for transportation to increase by almost 40 times in the next two decades. In 2017, roughly 1.1 million EVs were driving on roads globally.

So what do EVs and lithium-ion batteries have to do with vanadium? Lithium-ion technology is essentially the first horse out of the gate. The market for mass energy storage technology is growing rapidly and understanding where the market could go means understanding where things are at currently.

Vanadium’s role in the energy-efficient economy

Currently, the transportation sector is taking the world’s first step toward electrification and away from fossil fuel derived products like gasoline and diesel. The EV industry, and the rechargeable batteries within them, is currently dominated by lithium-ion technology. The application of this same technology is already being tested out in other areas of the transportation sector, like aviation and shipping. Lithium-ion batteries have even been applied successfully to manufacturing and now utility sectors, but to a smaller extent.

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