Lithium Extraction and Refining

Battery-Grade Lithium With Low Energy Processing

Saltworks brings water mining expertise and advanced desalination technologies to our lithium clients, offering solutions for concentrating, refining, and converting low-grade lithium sources to battery-grade products. We offer processing technologies for higher purity, lower energy, boosting yield, removing unit operations, and reducing cost.

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Battery-Grade Lithium Extraction

The majority of the world’s battery-grade lithium is produced by:

  1. Mining & acid leaching from spodumene ores, i.e. LiAl(SiO3)2, producing lithium sulfate solution, which is converted to battery-grade lithium carbonate or hydroxide via electrochemical processes. Spodumene processing dominates Australian production.
  2. Concentration and precipitation as lithium carbonate from brines via evaporation ponds. These resources tend to have lower hardness (i.e. calcium, magnesium) and are located in areas with high evaporation rates such as elevated deserts in South America.

A third method is gaining popularity, particularly in North America and China:

  1. Lithium absorption from saline water sources to an ion exchange type material or bead, then released by washing the material with hydrochloric acid. This produces dilute lithium chloride, with impurities. Known as direct lithium extraction (DLE), the technology tends to fit lithium resources with higher hardness, located in areas not suitable for evaporation ponds.
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Lithium extraction and refining from water

Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE)

Direct lithium extraction (DLE) operators generally extract lithium using methods unique to each site—most produce a lithium chloride solution of 1,000 to 2,000 mg/L containing impurities. We add value for clients downstream of customer-selected DLE processes where we help by concentrating lithium chloride solutions and converting them to battery-grade lithium carbonate or lithium hydroxide solids.


We offer comprehensive modelling, piloting, and full-scale solutions that convert DLE outputs into battery-grade inputs.

Water Refining Technology Applied

Lithium processing plants are water plants. They refine a high-grade lithium output using water that can be returned and re-used. The steps generally include concentrating a brine, chemical conversion steps to change the lithium form, washing, and final crystallization. Saltworks offers solutions for every step, including comprehensive “concentrate, refine, and crystallize” packages. 


Our IonSelect product family removes troublesome ions such as silica, thereby enabling higher recovery processing in membrane systems.


Our next-generation reverse osmosis (RO) system, XtremeRO, concentrates lithium chloride (LiCl) up to 50% higher than conventional RO. These ultra-high pressure (1,800 psi) reverse osmosis (UHP-RO) systems reduce downstream evaporator size and cost, and in some cases remove their need entirely. 

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Highest Quality & Yield

To ensure the highest lithium quality and yield, we precisely target impurities and selectively precipitate the lithium forms most valuable to your project. We pair smart chemical conversion processes (BrineRefine) with robust ceramic ultrafiltration (XtremeUF) to enable precise, automated, pre-packaged chemical processing technology that completes various lithium conversion steps with less chemical waste and greater precision.


Our SaltMaker evaporator crystallizers concentrate lithium brines and crystallize solid battery-grade lithium hydroxide from solution. Built-in self-cleaning ensures reliability at optimal capacity while producing a high purity lithium solid product.


ScaleSense offers real-time measurement of specific ions, such as calcium, enabling improved process control that boosts both yield and purity.


With Saltworks’ focus on improved purity and yields, customers save capital and operating costs. We also reduce the need for—and size of—evaporation steps, which saves valuable energy and capital. To learn more about efficiently extracting high-quality lithium, download our lithium brochure, check out our article, or contact our expert lithium team.

Lithium Extraction and Refining Related Products

BrineRefine Chemical Softening System

Smart, compact, modular chemical system that reduces costs with precise dosing and built-in solids management. Improves recovery & minimizes fouling risk with intelligent controls that communicate with downstream assets, like RO or evaporators. More ...

SaltMaker MVR Evaporator Crystallizer

Compact and only requires power to operate. Combines Mechanical Vapor Recompression (MVR) technology with robust system design, solids management, and self-cleaning automation. More ...

XtremeRO/NF Brine Concentrator

Next-generation water-maker and brine-concentrator based on reverse osmosis that achieves extreme freshwater recoveries, enabling cost-effective brine management and treatment of challenging organic-laden waters including oil & gas produced waters. More ...

XtremeUF Ceramic Ultrafiltration System

An ultra-robust ceramic based ultrafilter that can remove suspended solids, oils, and grease from the most challenging slurries & impacted wastewaters. XtremeUF cleans as it operates, to ensure your membranes maintain performance. More ...

Lithium Extraction and Refining Related Resources

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99.9% Purity Battery-Grade Lithium Hydroxide

Saltworks is pleased to announce the production of battery-grade lithium hydroxide from an industrial wastewater. Saltworks’ process harvests lithium hydroxide solids that reach or exceed battery-grade specifications.

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