Did you know that the tools that have become integral to your life - your laptop, iPod, and mobile phone - are all powered by lithium batteries? Chances are you've got some lithium on your person right now. The third element on the periodic table may also hold the key to an environmentally sustainable, oil independent future. From electric cars to a 'smart' power grid that can actually store electricity, letting us harness the powers of the sun and wind and use them when we need them, lithium - a metal found only in some of the most uninhabitable places on Earth - is setting us on a path toward a carbon-free future. It's also shifting the geopolitical chessboard in profound ways. In this illuminating, entertaining, and timely book, the science reporter Seth Fletcher takes us on a fascinating journey, from the salt flats of Bolivia to the labs of MIT and Stanford, from the turmoil at GM to cutting-edge lithium-ion battery start-ups, introducing us to the key players and ideas in an industry with the power to reshape the world.
Lithium is the thread that ties together many key stories of our time: the environmental movement; the American auto industry, betting it all on the electrification of cars and trucks; the struggle between first-world countries in need of natural resources and the countries where those resources are found; and, finally, a foundering American economy, desperately searching for a green-tech boom to revive it.