Stellantis Pins Hopes on Geothermal Carbon Free Lithium Production

Stellantis is teaming up with a company claiming to be able to commercially produce battery grade lithium from a CO2 free process using naturally occurring salt water.

The automaker has signed a binding term sheet with energy specialist Vulcan Energy Resources for the first phase of a project to develop new geothermal brine projects aimed at decarbonizing the energy mix of its Mulhouse industrial site in France, home to the DS 7, Peugeot 308 and e-308, 508 and the new 408. Based upon current assumptions, the project could provide a significant portion of the industrial site’s annual energy needs starting in 2026.

Vulcan’s process uses wells sunk into the deep sub-surface from which hot, lithium-rich brine is pumped to the surface, not unlike a domestic heat-pump system. It then uses renewable heat derived from the geothermal brine to drive the lithium extraction process, with no fossil fuel consumption. The company claims the process uses less land area than mining or brine evaporation ponds and costs far less to create lithium at just $3,140 per metric ton.

The first phase of the project, located at the southernmost extent of Vulcan’s focus area in the Upper Rhine Valley, will include a pre-feasibility study for the construction of geothermal renewable energy assets for Stellantis’ facility, carried out by Vulcan which will also assess potential for lithium production. Last year, Vulcan announced that it had started a number of initiatives to expand its geothermal renewable energy and Zero Carbon Lithium business into France and specifically Alsace, which accounts for roughly one third of the Upper Rhine Graben. Vulcan has applied over the Mulhouse area for an exclusive lithium and geothermal license to secure another 480 km² of development area within the Upper Rhine Graben Valley Brine Field.

Arnaud Deboeuf, Stellantis chief manufacturing officer, said: “We are proud to announce another step in our partnership with Vulcan, which demonstrates our commitment to increase the use of decarbonized energy solutions across our facilities. Geothermal is one of many solutions we are exploring to achieve our carbon net zero goal by 2038, in alignment with our Dare Forward 2030 strategic plan.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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