geothermal baths for lithium extraction
Photo by Joey Clover on Unsplash

P&ID is proudly out front for lithium production and sustainable processes.  In a recent column in Chemical Processing, Barry on Batteries, I discussed how the chemical industry can prepare for a new market segment, lithium extraction from geothermal waters.

Geothermal water is the product of water-rock interactions over a long time at a high temperature and depth. The water contains lithium as well as other minerals, such as bromine. In direct lithium extraction (DLE) from geothermal waters, brine flows through a lithium-bonding material using several processes to recover the lithium. The lithium-free brine is then re-injected back into the ground.

Still, what’s the sustainability angle? DLE processes produce zero waste and are water neutral. Plus, they have fewer land and environmental impacts compared with traditional lithium ore mining.

Lithium extraction from geothermal waters in the news

Now, how is P&ID out front?  Following my column, maybe serendipitously, Robert Mintak of Standard Lithium Ltd. (SLL) posted on LinkedIn about SLL’s recent success with a DLE process in the Smackover Formation in southern Arkansas. The Wall Street Journal also published an article, The Surprising New Source of Lithium for Batteries, explaining DLE and its benefits for an environmentally and sustainable lithium production.

Also, on May 7th, 60-Minutes aired “Companies Develop Lithium Extraction for Batteries in California as the US Auto Industry Goes Electric.” In the segment, Bill Whitaker interviews Eric Spomer, CEO of EnergySource Minerals. The company is going ahead with plans to recover lithium using an existing electric plant powered by the vast, underground geothermal field by the Salton Sea in California’s Imperial Valley, the state’s largest inland body of water.

That’s not all! The Chemical Engineer in June wrote about UK geothermal water. Amanda Jasi interviewed Stewart Dickson, CEO of Weardale Lithium, and Seb Leaper, CEO of Watercycle Technologies about developing a lithium supply chain in North East England. Watercycle Technologies’ proprietary direct lithium extraction and crystallization (DLEC) process selectively removes lithium ions from complex brines using mixed matrix hollow fiber adsorption membranes before the lithium is concentrated, polished, and crystallized.

An innovative mindset at P&ID

It’s exciting to see P&ID and my lithium market work for Chemical Processing in the company of The Wall Street Journal, 60-Minutes and The Chemical Engineer. I plan to remain at the forefront in lithium innovation by listening to clients and heeding the market. In the meantime, please feel free to contact me with your ideas for columns, blogs, and white papers.