Well, we’re actually playing a bit with the headline, as America’s investor sweetheart is sure to spark your interest. Actually, the electric car is not to blame, at least not directly.
Tesla’s Model S, together with any other electric or hybrid car using the same type of batteries have graphite as a vital component – actually it’s in every battery, including electronic gadgets like the iPhone.
Graphite is mostly mined and processed in China, which now suffers from a serious form of graphite pollution that endangers health, damages crops and creeps in and contaminates air and water.
“There’s little question that the Chinese are between a rock and a hard place environmentally,” said Josh Landess, an advanced transportation analyst with Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “There’s an obvious irony that the disruption it’s causing is within the clean vehicle and transportation industry.”
In response, China is pushing to close many mines and processing units of the ore, which has analysts debating the impact on prices and long-term development of batteries. According to Anthony Pandolfo from Monash University’s department of materials engineering, a typical electric car uses around 50 kilograms of graphite, hybrids about 10 kg, an e-bike somewhere in the vicinity of 1 kg, while a laptop has 100 grams and a mobile phone around 15 grams.