The University of Warwick is set to help Bolivia become a world leader in renewable energies and electric vehicles, thanks to a historic partnership on lithium battery research with the Bolivian Government. The partnership, funded by the UK’s Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), will help develop lithium’s application as a power source in everything from electric cars to mobile phones.
Bolivia’s vast salt flats harbour an estimated 39 million tonnes of lithium reserve, positioning the country to be one of the world’s most important suppliers in the coming decades. The projects supports Bolivia’s ambition to provide 40% of the world’s supply of lithium by 2030.
It will see Bolivia be at the forefront of lithium value chain, lead to higher paying employment and industry and a transition away from simple extraction and exploitation of raw materials. Several master’s degree scholarships will also be offered to Bolivian students and the University’s Warwick Manufacturing Group will link up with Yacimentos de Lito Bolivianos, Bolivia’s lithium mining institution in a multi-year research project to improve the understanding and possibilities for lithium battery technology.
Minister for the Americas and Caribbean at FCDO, David Rutley, was present at the signing of the agreement and said: “This is a landmark partnership between Bolivia and Warwick – one of our great UK universities. This collaboration will help unlock the possibilities of battery technology in a new era of clean energy.
“The partnership will also address the drawbacks associated with using fresh water in the extraction process – making the industry more sustainable and less environmentally damaging. This agreement demonstrates the potential for scientific and technological cooperation of our two great nations. It could help see Bolivia become the energy cell of the world.”
Professor Mike Shipman, University of Warwick’s Pro-Vice- Chancellor (International), said: “We are excited to be partnering with the Ministry of Hydrocarbons and Energies and Yacimentos de Litio Bolivanos. This collaboration will draw on the University’s extensive expertise in battery technologies and build new capabilities in Bolivia and help the global transition to sustainable power solutions through innovative research and training”.
The research project between Warwick/WMG and Bolivia’s Yacimentos de Lito Bolivianos YLB will focus of synthesis and characterization of battery cathode materials derived from lithium extracted from the Salar de Uyuni. The partnerships will combine expertise on battery manufacturing and characterization between the two groups. Access to the sources of lithium supplies is critical for the development of active materials within Li-ion battery and requires the UK to develop strategic partnerships internationally.