Home > Resources > Blogs >Conscious Material Procurement: Making EV’s a sustainability champion one Lithium-ion battery at a time

Conscious Material Procurement: Making EV’s a sustainability champion one Lithium-ion battery at a time

Business | November 20, 2022 | By Roshan Siddharth Ramanee EV Lithium Battery

Around 10 years ago, when the myth of the world ending on December 12 was running amok, climate change was the last thing on our minds. But climate change has been the cry of environmentalists and scientists since 1956. And there is enough evidence to prove that it is a fact and we are right in the middle of it. Thankfully, we have realized that we have to address the issue of climate change and the sooner the better.

As a major move toward becoming environmentally friendly, countries across the globe are making significant efforts to adopt electric vehicles. EVs have garnered international interest as they possess the ability to reduce energy consumption and emissions to minimal levels. Governments and manufacturers continue to make major commitments to improve EV manufacture, sales, and adoption at various levels. This has led to a significant reduction in the cost of manufacturing electric vehicles, giving them a competitive edge over internal combustion vehicles.

The rapid development of EVs has to be primarily attributed to the advances in lithium-ion battery technologies.  With the world moving to a continued transition to electric drive, it will necessitate far greater battery production – in both quality and quantity.

Its All In The Battery

Scientific data on the precise environmental impacts of electric vehicles continues to evolve. And the carbon emission offset during battery production versus electric vehicles’ overall emissions is a very complex topic. But this is where the whole topic runs into a catch-22. Recent information from multiple sources and studies have indicated a significant amount of environmental and ethical issues regarding the production of lithium-ion batteries. While the purpose of an EV is to reduce the emission of greenhouse gas emissions, there is a significant counterproductive result arising from battery production alone.

Lithium ion Battery





Currently, Lithium-ion batteries are the technology that is currently used across portable consumer electronics from cellphones to EVs . They have high energy per unit mass compared to other electrical energy storage systems. They are also known to have high power-to-weight ratio, high energy efficiency, good high-temperature performance, and low self-discharge. Lithium-ion can refer to a wide array of chemistries. But it ultimately consists of a battery based on charge and discharge reactions from a lithiated metal oxide cathode and a graphite anode. The most common chemistry used is the NMC, Nickel Manganese Cobalt, chemistry. The battery has zero carbon emissions per se. But getting Lithium and Cobalt to produce them has an environmental and human cost.

Mining Malady

Hard rock mines and underground brine reservoirs that lie below the surface of dried lake beds are the primary sources for Lithium ore. They are predominantly located in Australia, Chile and Argentina. In the hard rock mining process, the mineral is extracted from open pit mines and then roasted using fossil fuels. This obviously leaves impactful scars on the landscape and requires large amounts of water. During the process, 15 tonnes of CO2 per tonne of lithium extract is released, according to an analysis by the raw materials experts, Minviro, for the geothermal energy firm, Vulcan Energy Resources. On the other hand, extracting lithium from underground reservoirs relies completely on industrial quantities of water. Unfortunately, the mines are located in typically very water-scarce parts of the world. This puts indigenous communities and their livelihoods at risk, leading them to question the sustainability of their environment.

And matters only get worse with Cobalt. Activists and researchers are worried about it. For today, Two-thirds of the global supply of Cobalt is obtained from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Thousands of miners, known as creuseurs, traverse deep underground tunnels in search of cobalt. And almost all of them work by hand. This has been a major concern for human-rights activists. They have brought the conditions there to international attention, in particular over child labour and harm to workers’ health. And just as every heavy metal, cobalt is toxic if not handled properly.

Sustainability 2050

Ev in 2050






It is estimated that by 2050, approximately 1 billion vehicles will be powered by electricity. The number is 72 times more than that of 2020. The electrified fleet of cars, motorcycles, and heavy vehicles could be the end of gas guzzlers, smoggy cities and the stench of petrol fumes. All vehicles will be powered by lithium-ion rechargeable batteries. But there is a heavy environmental and human cost being paid to the production of the battery alone.  It is only natural to wonder whether EVs are significant and necessary on the road to sustainability. The answer we have for now is that EVs are the best option we have had in a long time on the road to sustainability.

There needs to be an improvement at a raw materials level to bring a balance between sustainability, cost, and performance. To ensure that battery manufacturing is environmentally conscious, it requires the support of a robust supply chain. Resources within the same geographical radius might be hard to come by; and that is also a matter of national policy. Hence, depending only on localized resources may not be viable to production at scale. The global battery supply chain and manufacturing is critical to comprehend its development. With raw material reserves stacked across the globe, the onus is on EV manufacturers to develop strategic sourcing mechanisms. This ensures that their carbon footprint in producing the batteries is minimal.

Tech To The Rescue

Technology is the savior here. Companies need to leverage available tech resources to develop and implement green procurement strategies. Machine Learning and AI systems can be a great starting point to this. With ML, mining companies are testing methods of mineral exploration without having to physically explore a location and scour for minerals, reducing harm to an already damaged environment. The process provides a high possibility of alternative materials being found to replace scarce and inaccessible metals such as cobalt, lithium, and nickel. For EV manufacturers, this is a great starting point. While ML helps with the sourcing of raw materials, state of the art, intuitive, AI-enabled procurement software can help manufacturers identify and build a band of suppliers that help them with their green initiatives. And if manufacturers make a significant contribution in their efforts to be conscious in their direct material procurement, the impact will be immense to the world.

You can start with Zumen. Zumen is an intuitive, AI enabled software for all things direct material purchasing. It is built with an understanding of the nuances of the part, product and procurement life-cycles. And it helps organizations handle data and documentation heavy processes in a streamlined manner. Zumen is smart, intelligent and comprehensive. Contact us [email protected] for more information.


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