Start-up starts capturing Lithium from existing geothermal power plant at Salton Sea

Process model of Simbol Materials (source: Simbol Materials website)
Alexander Richter 28 Sep 2011

Simbol Materials, a start-up in Southern California, is about to start operation on capturing Lithium, manganese and zinc from geothermal brine derived from a geothermal power plant near the Salton Sea, Imperial Valley, Calfornia.

Reported yesterday by the New York Times, Simbol Materials, a start-up company in Southern California is just about to start commercial operations to capture Lithium from existing geothermal power plants.

The technology – so the article, could turn the U.s. into a major exporter of Lithium, a metal needed in the ever growing electrical battery market.

The factory near the Salton Sea in the Imperial Valley in Southern California is also expected to capture manganese and zinc.

“The company, based in Pleasanton, Calif., will piggyback on an existing geothermal plant that makes electricity by pumping hot water from deep underground and using its heat to make steam to drive a turbine. Then it re-injects the water into the ground. The “water” is actually a very strong brine, composed of about 30 percent dissolved salts, according to Luka Erceg, Simbol’s co-founder and chief executive.

“When we looked into the brine resource, what we found was not only lithium, but manganese, zinc and about half the periodic table of the elements,” said Mr. Erceg, referring to it as “a smorgasbord of products.” At this point, he said, the only ones that make good economic sense to recover are the lithium, manganese and zinc.”

For the full article and a bit deeper description of the novel technology the company is going to use see the link to the NY Times article below.

Source: New York Times.