Lithium is a metal that dominates the battery industry. Lightweight and powerful, lithium-ion batteries are used in laptops, phones, scooters, electric toothbrushes and other consumer electronics. 

Global lithium mine production nearly quadrupled from 2010 to 2021, according to Statista. Demand is poised to increase even more as electric vehicles—the largest type of consumer electronics—become common goods.

All this lithium mining has consequences, says Alexandra Berkova, a senior at the College of Engineering and Computing.

“Lithium is becoming a very scarce resource,” Berkova says. “And on top of that, there’s a lot of unethical mining for lithium in Africa.” 

Berkova and seniors Ana Claus and Amanda Perez are innovating a way to alleviate lithium demand. The three mechanical engineering students are prototyping a seawater battery that would operate using sodium, a metal that can be pulled from the ocean’s sodium chloride molecules. The sodium would replace lithium in these batteries.

Read more at FIU News