E3 Metals: finding a new source for the future of energy
Following the rapid proliferation of consumer electronics using lithium batteries, E3 Metals has patented new technology to extract the metal.
The Alberta Lithium Project explores the use of an extraction process that takes oilfield brine from the province and purifies it into lithium concentrate. This product can then go on to be used in the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries, which are currently used in EVs, solar panels, smartphones, and more.
The lithium enriched brine that is abundant in the Leduc Formation - a major source of oil and natural gas in Alberta - is a large part of the project’s exciting potential, as is the “industry friendly” jurisdiction of the province. E3 will be able to repurpose important logistic routes in its permitted area for producing and processing lithium brine. High temperature and flowrates also mean that geothermal power/heat recovery should be possible, further adding to the project’s ‘green’ credentials.
E3 Metals believes that lithium is the “future in energy”. With 2.87 billion smartphone users worldwide and the viability of EVs increasing yearly, lithium certainly has an important part to play in any discussion on energy.
Top three battery innovators
Goodenough, Whittingham, and Yoshino: Joint receivers of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, these researchers developed the lithium-ion battery that is now omnipresent across the electronics sector. Their impressive work has arguably enabled the smartphone to proliferate and allowed EV manufacturers, such as Tesla, to make quantum leaps in development. Paul Coxon, materials scene and metallurgy professor at the University of Cambridge, said “[Lithium-ion batteries] are the hidden workhorses of the mobile era, which came about thanks to fundamental research that began over 40 years ago.”
IBM: In a December 2019 press release, IBM announced that researchers in its ‘Battery Lab’ were working on a battery that uses neither cobalt or nickel in its cathode material. This development combats the use of heavy metals (such as the aforementioned) in industry, owing to what IBM calls “tremendous environmental and humanitarian risks”. IBM claims that the unique components can be extracted from ordinary sea water, although the company has not yet announced what these are. Tests conducted so far indicate to IBM that its new battery “could outperform lithium-ion across several sustainable technologies”, with lower costs, faster charging, higher power/energy density, excellent energy efficiency, and low flammability.
MIT: An impressive and intriguing innovation from researchers at MIT resulted in a battery that is proven to absorb carbon dioxide from the air and use it to recharge. Made from lithium, carbon, and a bespoke electrolyte, the project’s carbon capturing capabilities have the potential to significantly assist the global shift to sustainable energy. “Lithium-carbon dioxide batteries are years away,” said Betar Gallant, professor of mechanical engineering, but this breakthrough could represent something very exciting for the energy sector as it is subsequently refined.
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.