French auto-manufacturer Stellantis has announced that it will invest more than $100m (€91.81m) into US lithium and sustainable energy company Controlled Thermal Resources (CTR).
The investment will be used to develop CTR’s Hell’s Kitchen project in Imperial County, California. At 300,000 tonnes per annum (tpa), Hell’s Kitchen is the world’s largest geothermal lithium project.
As part of the deal, Stellantis will see an initial 65,000tpa of battery grade lithium hydroxide monohydrate from Hell’s Kitchen, an increase of more than double the initial 25,000tpa agreement signed in 2022.
Hell’s Kitchen will dredge high-temperature lithium brine up from 8,000ft below the surface of the Earth. Lithium will be extracted from the brine before it is pumped back down to the subterranean reservoir.
The process itself will be powered by renewable energy, with on-site wind farms’ steam power utilised to extract the brine from the Earth. As it is a fully integrated process, time-consuming lithium brine ponds are not necessary for extraction.
“The foundation of our industry-leading decarbonisation drive includes low-emissions production and sustainable supply as the building blocks for our electric vehicles [EVs],” stated Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares.
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He added: “The latest agreement with CTR is an important step in our care for our customers and our planet as we work to provide clean, safe and affordable mobility in North America.”
The lithium produced will go towards Stellantis’ ongoing North American energy transition drive. Hell’s Kitchen lithium will aid the eligibility of Stellantis products that use it for tax credits and consumer incentives under the US’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).
On the back of the IRA, Stellantis has been setting up six North American car manufacturing plants and partnerships with a number of companies in North America to benefit from greater subsidies and make its coming fleet of EVs more cost effective.