Comment Separation Processes

Ion-exchange beads for lithium extraction

By Mary Page Bailey |

With lithium demand higher than ever, processors are increasingly turning toward emerging technologies and new resources for lithium extraction. A new California-based project launched by Controlled Thermal Resources (CTR; Imperial, Calif.; www.cthermal.com) and Lilac Solutions (Oakland, Calif.; www.lilacsolutions.com) aims to directly extract lithium from geothermal brines that are 4,000 ft below the surface in the Salton Sea Geothermal Field using new ion-exchange (IX) beads. “Direct lithium extraction from geothermal brines is a continuous, closed-loop process that returns spent brine to its original source. It has a very small physical footprint, is not weather-dependent and is powered by renewable energy,” explains CTR principal engineer Jason Czapla. Lilac Solutions[/caption] Adapted from coating techniques used in cathode materials, Lilac Solutions’ IX beads incorporate surface nano-coatings and tailored compositions to selectively absorb Li+ ions from the brine, explains Lilac Solutions CEO Dave Snydacker. The Li+ is then released by the addition of acid. “The beads’ unique crystal structure features a very strong binding energy for lithium, enabling high recovery from lower-grade brines,” adds Snydacker. Lilac…
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