There are 3 main families when it comes to Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) technologies, each with their own unique characteristics. The three main families are:
What is Direct Lithium Extraction?
Direct Lithium Extraction technology innovates traditional lithium extraction methods and optimizes the extraction of lithium from brines by an environmental and economic metric.
Dr. John Burba, President and CEO of IBAT, invented the new Direct Lithium Extraction technology that uses an improved selective absorbent to produce high quality batteries from brines containing lithium while protecting the environment for local inhabitants at low cost!
This process is more efficient than other methods as well so it will result in a higher quality product with less material needed overall- meaning lower prices, too.
The first family of DLE technology is Absorption. Here, Lithium Chloride molecules in the brine water are physically absorbed onto the sorbet and removed with a strip solution.
Since water is used to recover the lithium chloride, no reagents are necessary with over 90% lithium extraction efficiency. At this time, FMC is the only commercial operation utilizing this technology. Usually, there is a yield of high quality lithium chloride, and temperatures above 50°C are typically required.
The next family of DLE technology is Ion-Exchange. Lithium-ions in the brine water are absorbed into solid ion material and then swapped for another positive ion.
This technology is great because there is a high concentration of lithium in the solution and the impurity contamination risk is minimized, but there is also poor extraction efficiency, high OPEX costs because of the large amounts of base and acid inputs, and there is a potential to degrade in acidic conditions.
Finally, Solvent Extraction is our last family of DLE technology. It works through a liquid phase with adsorptive or ion exchange-type properties to remove lithium chloride or lithium-ions from the brine.
This technology has the potential to produce high concentrations of lithium from the brine, however, the organic solvents are environmentally challenging and it only works with low concentrations of calcium and magnesium. There are also fire risks with the high-temperature brines and this technology is relevantly expensive.
Impact on the Lithium Market
As technology updates and optimizes the lithium mining industry, higher quality lithium is produced for lower cost with less time to market. The demand for lithium is constantly growing alongside adoption of clean energy practices and electric vehicle production.
With production, demand, and innovating ramping up in the lithium space, many investors have taken notice and financially backed lithium enterprises as the world scrutinizes environmental impacts and carbon footprints of corporations around the globe.
Beyond The Lithium Market
The sustainability and economic feasibility of green energy initiatives permeate into other markets and industries. For example, LITH Token is a lithium-based cryptocurrency token which incentivizes sustainable practices in business and offers rewards for green energy purchases such as solar panels and electric vehicles.
Lithium's Green Future
The future is bright for lithium, especially with the emergence of Direct Lithium Extraction technology. As these technologies continue to innovate on power the technology that connects and moves business, the world moves closer to a net-zero carbon economy.
From recycling to efficiency and environmental protection, lithium is the resource that creates a sustainable future for energy.
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