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In Alsace, Stellantis joins forces with a volcano to extract heat and lithium from its core.

The inaugural ribbon for the first French gigafactory of batteries for the automotive sector was barely cut when the Stellantis group recently announced the signing of an agreement with German-Australian startup Vulcan to build a geothermal power plant. deeply. in Mulhouse (Haut-Rhin).

A technical feasibility study will be conducted to test the possibility of supplying heat and electricity to the DS7 and the Peugeot 308, e-308, 408 and 508 production site, as well as the possibility of mining lithium from the subsoil of the High Alsace. , which can be used as a raw material for the production of group batteries. The results of the research determine both the volumes and the amount of investment. Both partners plan to implement the project equally.

Vulkan filed an exploration permit in May for both geothermal exploitation and lithium mining over an area of ​​480 km.2 around Mulhouse. The company hopes to receive permission to conduct seismic surveys by mid-2024. This is necessary to determine the exact location and depth of drilling, which can reach 3500 meters.

The future installation should deliver its first calories in 2026. They are partially converted into electricity. Everything will supply the Stellantis Mulhouse painting, which consumes a lot of electricity and heat. In addition to reducing its carbon footprint (Stellantis aims to reduce emissions from its factories by 50% between 2021 and 2025), it is also an opportunity for the manufacturer to increase its energy independence.

Expand the operating area

However, there is another challenge behind the decarbonisation of the Mulhouse plant: supplying the carmaker with lithium, a key element in the batteries that will power its electric vehicle. The geothermal installation will indeed be equipped with a system that will allow the extraction of lithium from the geothermal water, a process developed by Vulcan, which makes it possible to recover up to 95% of the metal in the brine.

The lithium chloride thus recovered must be converted into lithium hydroxide to be used in batteries. This conversion will initially take place at the central Vulcan site currently under construction in Frankfurt (Hesse), but the operator is considering building a conversion plant in the medium term specifically to supply the French market.

Source: Le Monde



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