Tesla recently held a groundbreaking ceremony for its new lithium refinery in Texas, during which CEO Elon Musk rolled up in a fully-outfitted Cybertruck. Due out this year, Musk’s version of the futuristic truck included a sporty new tool rack on the back, as spotted for the first time at the event.
Tesla shared a livestream of the event, which included Musk, Texas Governor Greg Abbott, the U.S. Department of Energy Undersecretary Kathleen Hogan, and Nueces County Judge Connie Scott. The new lithium factory is located just outside Corpus Christi, Texas, around 217 miles from Austin, the home of Tesla’s International HQ and Gigafactory Texas.
Interestingly, the Cybertruck included a tool rack grille on both side rails of the electric pickup’s bed and a few shovels attached to the metal grille. The shovels also had a low-poly design like the Cybertruck.
In the past, Elon Musk has promised that the Cybertruck will be a useful pickup truck for field workers. The tool rack shows one option for what this could look like.
The Tesla community has started referring to these custom-designed shovels as Cybershovels. The guests also used the shovels to participate in the lithium factory’s groundbreaking. The rack might make it to production as an add-on for the Cybertruck and could eventually be sold separately.
Tesla Lithium Refinery In Texas
During the event, Texas Governor Greg Abbott and U.S. Department of Energy Undersecretary Kathleen Hogan celebrated Tesla’s latest investment in Texas. The factory is expected to bring more engineering and technical jobs to the state, the city of Corpus Christi, and Nueces County.
“This is a great day for Nueces County. You may remember I was here a month or two ago and I was talkin’ about the way that you’re gonna see a wave of jobs coming to Corpus Christi and Nueces County,” Governor Abbott said.
“This is just one of many projects that will be providing those jobs that will elevate Corpus Christi and Nueces Country, Robstown, the entire area far much more. Congratulations on this big success,” the Texas governor added.
According to Elon Musk, Tesla’s lithium refinery in Texas will be able to produce lithium for about a million vehicles. This factory alone will have the capacity to produce more battery-grade lithium than the production of the entire North American refineries combined.
“As you can see, we’ve got the Earth-moving equipment already here, so we’re going to begin construction immediately. We’re aiming to finish construction next year and then reach hopefully full production a year later,” Musk said.
Musk clarified that Tesla intends to continue using its lithium suppliers, adding that this lithium refinery is preparing to meet the company’s future demands. He also noted that lithium is a very common Earth ore, but that making it battery-grade is industrially intensive. Crucially, Musk added, battery-grade lithium needs to be completely free of any impurities. Otherwise, the battery will degrade more quickly than expected.
“We’ve got a number of innovations we think will be quite effective in the refining of lithium that haven’t been done before,” Elon Musk said.
Turner Caldwell, Sr Manager of Battery Minerals & Metals at Tesla, explained how the process of producing lithium at this Tesla refinery will differ from conventional methods. According to Caldwell, lithium refining is a chemical process that requires heavy use of sulfuric acid and sodium hydroxide. The traditional techniques produce byproducts that are of little use later, such as sodium sulfate.
Considering sustainability, Tesla has invented its own methods of refining lithium. Turner Caldwell explained the process in a bit of detail as follows:
“What we are going to be using are much more inert reagents, we’ll be consuming soda ash sodium carbonate very common industrial chemical.
“We’ll be consuming lime, again a very common industrial chemical and it’s a much more direct route that consumes 20% less energy all in.
“It consumes reagents that are 60% less costly and all in the production cost is 30% lower on a unit cost basis.
“But the real key thing here is the byproduct that’s produced is much more inert. It’s basically a mix of sand and limestone.
“And the team here has been working really hard on finding beneficial use opportunities for that sand and limestone to try to feed that into construction materials.
“So that we end up with as a net environmentally very neutral site.”
You can watch Tesla’s full lithium groundbreaking event below, complete with the Cybertruck tool rack grille.
Originally posted on EVANNEX & Tesla Oracle. By @IqtidarAlii.
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