Tesla appears to be building an unannounced lithium research and development facility in Sparks, Nevada, according to a set of building permits recently filed with the city.
Tenant improvement projects for the purpose of a Manufacturing R&D (Lithium Lab) facility. The scope of work includes mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and minor architectural upgrades to support tool installation and process optimizations.
Per Electrek, the location is near the city core, unlike Giga Nevada, which is some 36km (24 miles) outside the city.
Tesla has not announced what the building will be used for, nor have they touched on any lithium development processes they are doing in-house. A few rumours are circulating about what this building could be for. These include:
- Development of refining technologies for its Texas-based refinery currently under construction,
- Development of a new lithium extraction method or lithium processing systems for North America or:
- Lithium battery development to improve energy density.
Although we are not clear exactly what the plan is, given its proximity, we can assume the research and development work undertaken at the new facility would be associated with the large lithium deposits in the state. However, with Giga Nevada so close, it could also be associated with battery research and development. Either way, we will wait for confirmation or additional details in the public record over the coming months.