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Schlumberger and Panasonic Energy collaborate on new lithium-production process

By Mary Page Bailey |

Schlumberger New Energy and Panasonic Energy of North America, a division of Panasonic Corporation of North America, announced that they have entered into a collaboration agreement for the validation and optimization of the new lithium extraction and production process to be used by Schlumberger New Energy at its NeoLith Energy pilot plant in Nevada. This collaboration paves the way for improved lithium production solutions that will help meet the expected surge in demand for lithium as the electric vehicle (EV) market takes off worldwide.

NeoLith Energy’s sustainable approach uses a differentiated direct lithium extraction (DLE) process to produce high-purity, battery-grade lithium material while reducing the production time from over a year to weeks. The unique process is in sharp contrast to conventional evaporative methods of extracting lithium, with a significantly reduced groundwater and physical footprint. Panasonic will provide their guidance to validate and optimize the lithium material for battery-grade consumption. Situated in Clayton Valley, Nevada, the pilot plant is just 200 miles from Panasonic’s large-scale advanced battery manufacturing operation, Panasonic Energy of North America, in Sparks, Nevada.

As a global technology company and leader in lithium-ion batteries, Panasonic has a proven track record in innovation and advanced products and solutions that power the automotive industry. Demand for battery-grade lithium is projected to grow exponentially over the next decade. As EVs greatly depend on lithium-ion rechargeable batteries, sustainable and efficient lithium production has become an important topic for regions, industries and technology companies, as well as battery and large automotive manufacturers. While the lithium industry is expected to attract large investments, the time-to-first-lithium-production for new development projects and regions will be critical for the industry to meet the surge in demand.

“Panasonic has a longstanding commitment to contributing to society and increasing sustainability in the supply chain as we work to produce the world’s safest, highest quality and most affordable batteries is a critical priority,” said Allan Swan, president of Panasonic Energy of North America. “We look forward to working with Schlumberger New Energy to help achieve our vision of advancing the lithium-ion battery space and accelerating to a clean energy society.”

“Panasonic is a pioneer in electric vehicle battery technology, and we are excited to collaborate with them in developing our differentiated direct lithium extraction and production process,” said Ashok Belani, executive vice president Schlumberger New Energy. “We are committed to expanding the global supply chain for advanced lithium compounds to support the forecasted surge in demand and enable new opportunities for lithium production globally.”

NeoLith Energy’s objective will be to pump brine from the subsurface, extract greater than 90% of the dissolved lithium, and pump more than 85% of the brine back to the subsurface in an environmentally safe manner. In addition to maximizing the reinjection of the brine, the ultimate goal is to eliminate the need for any fresh water from an external source and reduce the environmental impact.

Together, Panasonic and Schlumberger New Energy aim to accelerate the development and implementation of an innovative lithium production process, with a commitment to economical, environmental and responsible extraction to empower the world’s transition to new energy sources.

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