Lithium Market to Advance as Researcher Develops an Approach to Extract Lithium, More Efficient than Conventional Methods
Posted On April 16, 2022
Lithium is one of the most vital elements needed for batteries that power computer electronics, smartphones, electric cars. It is consistently in hot demand worldwide. However, obtaining the metal poses numerous setbacks. The element is difficult to mine and requires expensive, time-consuming, and environmentally hazardous production approaches.
To overcome this stumbling block, a researcher has created a lithium extraction method that is both more efficient and environmentally benign than traditional approaches. The technique would significantly contribute to the Lithium Market by removing the barriers to harvesting the compound and assisting the world in meeting its energy needs.
Mineral-rich brines, heated fluids found deep under the Earth's crust, provide most of the world's lithium today. As per the traditional method, brine is acquired by drilling deep and then pumping it into solar evaporation ponds. There, it stays for one and a half years. However, the researcher pointed out that such a strategy is detrimental to the environment. It pollutes the soil and consumes water. Further, it takes the UC Pool's capacity to manufacture one tonne of lithium.
The electrochemical method performed in the research recovers lithium directly, bypassing the time-consuming sun evaporation process and yielding purer lithium free of sodium, potassium, and other impurities found in lithium obtained using traditional mining methods. Moreover, the novel approach receives 90 percent more refined lithium at a lower cost, from $5 per kilogram to around $1.
The researcher put this technique to the test and discovered that it worked perfectly, yielding an almost impurity-free lithium sample in under two hours. This is in comparison to the typical extraction time of 18 hours.
The team's innovative technology has already been tested under simulated settings in the lab. However, it will still require more experimentation. Nonetheless, it has the potential to become the blueprint for lithium-extraction procedures in the future. It can alter how renewable energy businesses drill for lithium and, more crucially, reduce the US reliance on foreign material sources.
The global demand for lithium is predicted to expand rapidly over the next few years. This is because automotive manufacturers have scaled up the production of pure electric models. Further, they have started working as utility providers integrating lithium-ion batteries into their power systems. However, the United States may have difficulty meeting that demand. The only operational lithium mine and most lithium used in the United States come from Australia and Latin America.
Hence, the new approach could help the United States and the world overcome the problem of Lithium availability, helping advance electric cars and the smartphones market.