Robert Bosch is partnering with IBM to use quantum computing to find alternatives to current rare earth materials used in electric vehicles.
Electric vehicles have a supply problem, mainly regarding their supply of raw materials. Cobalt for batteries, lanthanum for electromagnets, and many other rare earth minerals, in particular, are (as the name suggests) hard to find and often require an environmentally damaging process to extract and refine them. In efforts to look for viable alternatives, German automotive supplier Robert Bosch and IBM have partnered to use quantum computing to find new material alternatives.
According to Automotive News, Bosch and IBM plan to use quantum computing to simulate alternative materials used within electric vehicle components and, ultimately, aim to reduce cost, environmental impact, and increase the production capacity of electric vehicles.
In a comment to Automotive News, a representative from Bosch explained that the partnership with IBM “underscores the importance that alliances have for Bosch’s digital transformation.”
Concurrently, mining companies worldwide are looking to vastly expand the production of raw materials to keep up with EV manufacturer demand. Lithium is one commodity mining companies can’t get enough of. Companies such as Albemarle, Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile (SQM), and even BYD have all rushed to secure the resource and bring it to market.
Neither Bosch nor IBM could gauge how long their quantum computing testing would take; however, with so much demand-driven pressure for Bosch automotive products, there is no doubt they would like to employ results as soon as possible.
As demand for electric vehicles has become exponential in recent years, it is unclear if supply will eventually be bottlenecked or if the raw material suppliers will be able to catch up and begin to lower already inflated prices. What is certain is that the interest in reducing dependence on rare earth minerals that have become so hard to secure will likely only increase.
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