Make lithium extraction faster and cleaner

Controlled Thermal Resources and NeoLith Energy, which is a pilot lithium mining project by Schlumberger New Energy, are using a new approach called direct mining. It produces battery-grade lithium in much less time than current methods, redirects leftover brine in the soil, and is designed to help battery manufacturers assemble cells faster.

Automakers, such as General Motors, and battery makers, such as Panasonic Energy of North America, are collaborating and investing in companies that plan to test direct extraction methods. Such methods are designed to reduce the environmental and economic impact of lithium supply, said Manish Chawla, general manager of the industrial sector at IBM Global Industries.

“Companies spend time designing their supply chain, securing their sources” with the environment in mind, said Chawla.

If the sourcing and recyclability of battery materials is taken into account today, “before they reach that scale of oil and gas … my optimistic hope is that the issues will be resolved early in the cycle”, did he declare.

The evaporation process used in traditional lithium mining can take 18 to 24 months, said Richard Morrison, COO of NeoLith Energy.

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