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DOE funding to help make lithium extraction from geothermal/ oilfield brines more economical

Lithium site at Silver Peak, Nevada, around 2010 (source: flickr/ docsearls, creative commons)
Alexander Richter 6 Sep 2020

Speciality chemicals company Albermarle has been selected by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) as a critical partner for two lithium research projects over three years through a Battery Manufacturing Lab Call. The funded research could help make U.S. geothermal and oilfield brines more economical.

Earlier this week, Albemarle Corporation, announced having been selected by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) as a critical partner for two lithium research projects over three years through a Battery Manufacturing Lab Call. Albemarle will work in conjunction with two DOE labs on the company’s approved projects.

The first project, in collaboration with Argonne National Laboratory, is “Advanced Brine Processing to Enable U.S. Lithium Independence.” This research enables the development of a novel technology which provides a new production route eliminating steps in the current state-of-the-art process by going directly from lithium chloride to lithium hydroxide.

The second project, which will be done in partnership with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, is “Scaling Up of High-Performance Single Crystalline Ni-rich Cathode Materials with Advanced Lithium Salts.” This project will accelerate the commercialization of high-energy cathodes for extended battery life in the electric vehicle (EV) application.

The DOE announcement reports the selection of 13 projects through a Battery Manufacturing Lab Call with combined funding of almost $15 million over three years. The call sought proposals from National Laboratories to establish public-private partnerships that address engineering challenges for advanced battery materials and devices, with a focus on de-risking, scaling, and accelerating adoption of new technologies.

“Manufacturing competitiveness is a priority for the Trump Administration,” said Daniel R Simmons, Assistant Secretary for DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). “DOE’s investments under this opportunity will help accelerate the scientific breakthroughs needed to strengthen U.S. economic leadership in battery manufacturing.”

“We are honored to have the DOE select these two important research efforts in partnership with Argonne National Laboratory and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory,” said Dr. Glen Merfeld, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Lithium.

“Successful execution of the first project will allow for more efficient utilization of the lithium brine resource in the Clayton Valley area of Nevada and a new pathway to a critical lithium material. The technology could also help make U.S. geothermal and oilfield brines more economical, including our brine reserves in Magnolia, Arkansas. Through the second project, we will learn how tailored lithium salts can further improve cathode performance, leading to more energy dense and longer life lithium ion batteries.”

Source: Company release via PR Newswire