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Vulcan Energy produces first battery-grade lithium hydroxide from geothermal pilot plant

| By Mary Bailey

Vulcan Energy Resources Ltd.’s (Perth, Australia) chemical engineering team has successfully produced its first battery quality lithium hydroxide monohydrate (LHM) from piloting operations. The LHM was produced from Vulcan’s sorption pilot plant, located at  a geothermal renewable energy plant in the Upper Rhine Valley in  Germany, with downstream electrolysis processing offsite, as per Vulcan’s planned commercial Zero Carbon Lithium Project.  The sample exceeds traditional battery grade LHM product including best on the market battery grade specifications required from offtake customers, at >56.5% LiOH.H2O and very low impurities. 

The lithium chloride extracted by the sorbent in the pilot plant was recovered with water and sent offsite, where it was purified and concentrated by a third-party provider to prepare the lithium chloride for electrolysis to produce lithium hydroxide solution. The solution was then crystalized to produce battery-grade LHM. Further production of battery quality material will continue to ramp up to supply Vulcan’s offtake partners with samples. Vulcan is  targeting Phase 1 commercial production for CY2024.

Data generated during the production of the sample will be used for Vulcan’s ongoing Definitive Feasibility Study currently being carried out by Hatch and Vulcan’s engineering teams.  Vulcan’s pilot has been operating successfully since April 2021, using brine from a geothermal plant, and will be progressively scaled up in size during the coming year.

Vulcan Managing Director, Dr. Francis Wedin, commented: “I would like to congratulate our chemical engineering and chemistry teams on this important milestone as we develop the Zero Carbon Lithium Project. We will continue to methodically progress, de-risk and execute on our plan to build a fully integrated renewable energy and battery-quality lithium chemicals project in Europe to service the battery and electric vehicle industry. The team is working towards what is likely to be the first raw materials project with net zero greenhouse gas emissions in the world; an important statement of what can be achieved with the right scientific approach at this critical juncture of global climate change leading toward COP26.”