Electric Cars Famously Run on Electricity, So What Is White Oil?

Lizzy Rosenberg - Author

Dec. 8 2020, Published 1:49 p.m. ET

electric car white oil
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Car travel is a notorious climate change contributor – drilling for non-renewable resources such as gas and oil damages the environment and emits several tonnes of greenhouse gases, while driving with it further burns, releasing toxic chemicals into the air. Therefore, environmental experts have been pushing for electric vehicles that run on renewable, cleaner energy, such as electricity.

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If electric cars supposedly run on green energy, why are companies such as Savannah selling white oil to electric car companies worldwide? Here's what you need to know regarding the non-renewable energy source, which may be just as harmful as the rest of the oil industry.

white oil
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White oil is actually required for electric vehicles.

Although electric vehicles mostly rely on electricity for power, many utilize a lithium battery, which requires — well — lithium, aka white oil, according to The Guardian. White oil can be found in rock and clay deposits as a solid mineral, which is later dissolved in brine. It's light-weight and stores quite a bit of energy. And while that's at least advantageous in the realm of energy conservation, digging it up brings tremendous environmental harm.

The increasing need for lithium has lead to a mining boom in areas rich with lithium, such as Austria, Serbia, Finland, and especially Portugal . Mining brings irreparable harm to the surrounding environment, not only through land damage brought on by digging, but also from gases released by the digging machinery. In the long run, it will supposedly drive down greenhouse gas emissions, but right now, it's contributing to massive amounts of greenhouse gases.  

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“There’s a fundamental question behind all this about the model of consumption and production that we now have, which is simply not sustainable,” said Thea Riofrancos, a political economist from Rhode Island's Providence College, as per The Guardian. “Everyone having an electric vehicle means an enormous amount of mining, refining and all the polluting activities that come with it.”

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This will most likely lead to trade agreements — and disagreements — surrounding white oil.

Long before the pandemic, there had been a widespread lithium shortage that is leading to trade agreements — and disagreements — across the globe. China and the U.S. have ongoing trade disagreements far beyond white oil, and more recently Chile and China were engaged in a massive disagreement over white oil trade. With the growing demand for electric cars, more trade spats are definitely on their way, which is something to worry about.

Many residents in white oil-rich areas, such as central Portugal, also worry their surrounding land is going to be dug up and ruined for the sake of finding more rich lithium reserves. 

“Any of this could be exploited for lithium soon," said Mario Inacio, who is in the process of building his own yoga. "Possible exploration orders hang over all of it."

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electric car disadvantages
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While electric cars are going to drive down greenhouse gas emissions in the long run, it's imperative that we opt for greener mining solutions. A greater drive for white oil could bring serious chaos.

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