Life cycle climate change impacts of producing battery metals from land ores versus deep-sea polymetallic nodules

Paulikas, D., Katona, S., Ilves, E. and Ali, S. (2020) Life Cycle Climate Change Impacts of Producing Battery Metals from Land Ores versus Deep-Sea Polymetallic Nodules. Journal of Cleaner Production. 275. 123822.  

Using the materials needed for 1 billion electric cars as a benchmark, this paper compares the predicted effects on climate change of sourcing these metals by conventional land mining or by the collection of polymetallic nodules lying on the deep seabed.

The results show the potential for significant reductions in CO2 emissions from the production of nickel (-80%), copper (-76%), cobalt (-29%) and manganese (-22%) when polymetallic nodules are used instead of land mining ores. Moreover, the paper indicates that these nodules can reduce the amount of stored carbon at risk of being released by 94%, compared to land mining, for the same quantity of metals.

The consequence is that using polymetallic nodules instead of land-derived ores for manufacturing 1 billion electric vehicles could reduce future atmospheric CO2 by 11.5 gigatonnes.

The full report can be found here.