Lithium has completely revolutionized the way we power our technology, transportation, and make life more comfortable, however, the current lithium industry is in a crisis over how lithium is extracted from the Earth.
Two Sources of Lithium
Scientists around the world are currently designing a way to power our future with renewable energy.
Lithium batteries are a pivotal to the strategy of revolutionizing our sources of energy, but where does lithium originate from in the first place?
Currently there are two main sources for commercial lithium: spodumene mines and salar brine water.
Hard rocks and clusters of crystals known as spodumene (which contain lithium) are mined from the Earth in traditional mining processes.
Generally, spodumene is found around the world, and Australia is home to the largest spodumene mine.
This method of lithium mining is complicated, expensive, and carries numerous environmental hazards while consuming large amounts of chemicals and producing significant amounts of waste and requiring a lot of maintenance.
2. Salar Brine Water
The other main source of lithium is extraction from salar brine water. It has been estimated that over half of the world's known lithium are contained in this source.
Most of the proven lithium-containing salars are found in South America between the countries of Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile.
These issues stem from the effects of traditional salar brine water processing which include heavy ground water consumption (impacting nearby inhabitants' water supply) and salt piles left stacked in the salars accompanied by low lithium recovery rates.
In other words, the amount of lithium produced does not validate the harsh environmental impacts caused by these traditional methods.
Using an extremely selective absorbent, Direct Lithium Extraction reaches lithium recovery rates twice as high as it's conventional counterparts, meanwhile, it's built-in water recycling design preserves 98% of the brine water used, making this an incredibly environmentally friendly process.
It is also worth noting that the recovery rates of Direct Lithium Extraction are expected to be double the recovery rates of traditional brine water extraction (if not more).