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Lithium extraction from geothermal brine, a greener way to source Lithium?

Hudson Ranch I, California, U.S. (source: EnergySource)
Alexander Richter 5 Jan 2018

Researchers in the U.S. have explored a new approach to extracting lithium from geothermal brine, which could be a more attractive option to source this precious metal based on an environmental perspective.

An article published in December 2017 describes how a newly improved sorbent could offer an environmentally friendly way to get lithium from geothermal brine of geothermal power plant operations in the United States (Environ. Sci. Technol. 2017, DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.7b03464).

This new technology alllows to capture the lithium ions from brine before pumping it back underground. This allows to collect the metal without the heavy environmental impacts of typical extractions methods, that normaly crate large amounts of acid or salt waste.

In studies at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Parans Paranthaman, one of the authors, and his colleagues were able to capture about 91% of the initial lithium in the brine, which is more effective than other methods using sodium and potassium.

Using lithium chloride to release lithium from the sorbent instead of acid can be seen as very attractive from an environmental perspective.

See details inthe article

Article: “Recovery of Lithium from Geothermal Brine with Lithium-Aluminum Layered Double Hydroxide Chloride Sorbents” (Published in Environmental Science & Technology, Oct. 2017)

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Source: C&en