Pools of brine are turned into lithium at the Albemarle lithium mine in Chile's Atacama desert.
Rodrigo Abd—AP

If the electric-vehicle revolution is to happen in the U.S., Albemarle may be the company that fuels its success. Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Albemarle is one of the world’s leading lithium providers, helping create the batteries that power electric cars. It operates the only currently active lithium mine in the U.S. with plans to reopen a second mine in North Carolina in the next few years, and its innovative techniques have improved the amount of lithium concentration it extracts by 25%. It is also experimenting with manipulating the element to improve its capabilities and to build batteries that are safer, longer-­lasting, and twice as energy-­dense as the batteries that exist today. “We can do this better, we can do it faster,” says Glen Merfeld, Albemarle’s chief technology officer.

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