Researchers at the University of Wyoming have discovered a new lithium reserve that could radically alter where the US sources a key component of the li-ion batteries used in consumer electronics, electric vehicles, and other technology. Currently the United States imports a vast majority of its lithium, but the newly-unearthed reserve — located at Rock Springs, Wyoming — could transform the US from "a significant lithium importer to an independent lithium producer" according to experts at the university's Carbon Management Institute.

Preliminary findings from a 25-square-mile area reveal up to 228,000 tons of lithium waiting to be harnessed — more than enough to satisfy annual US demand. Under a "best-case scenario" scientists believe the promising resource could provide a total of 18 million tons of lithium. That would match global production rates for 720 years. "More work must be done to fully assess the potential, but our research is very encouraging at this point," says deputy director Shanna Dahl. Lithium's not exactly rare to come by, but the economic significance and potential for new jobs make the discovery all the more exciting.