Lithium Extraction and Refining
Lithium projects from concept to full-scale reality
CONCENTRATE BRINES WITH
SELECTIVE CONTAMINANT REMOVAL
Lithium Extraction and Brines
The majority of the world’s lithium is produced by one of two means:
- Mining & acid leaching from spodumene ores (LiAl(SiO3)2, producing lithium sulfate solution, which is then converted to battery-grade lithium carbonate or hydroxide via electrochemical processes. Spodumene processing dominates Australian production.
- 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 very high evaporation rates such as elevated deserts in South America.
A third method is gaining popularity, particularly in North America and China:
- 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.
Water Refining Technology Applied
Lithium processing plants are water plants, refining a high grade lithium output and clean water that can be returned and re-used. Generally, the steps include concentrating a brine, chemical conversion steps to change the lithium form, washing, and final crystallization. Saltworks offers solutions for every step, including your complete package.
Our IonSelect product family removes potentially troublesome ions such as silica, thereby enabling higher recovery processing in membrane systems, reducing cost and energy associated with evaporators.
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.
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 DLE, where we can help by concentrating lithium chloride solutions and converting to battery-grade lithium carbonate or lithium hydroxide solids.
Saltworks adds value downstream of customer selected DLE processes. We offer comprehensive modeling, piloting, and full-scale solutions that convert DLE outputs into battery grade inputs.
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 crystalize 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 both capital and operating cost. We also reduce the need for—and size of—evaporation steps, which saves valuable energy as well as 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 softening system that reduces costs with precision dosing and built-in solids management. Improves recovery and minimizes fouling risk with intelligent controls that communicate with downstream assets, like RO or evaporators.
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.
An ultra-robust ceramic based ultrafilter that can remove suspended solids, oils, and grease from the most challenging slurries and impacted wastewaters. XtremeUF cleans itself as it operates, to ensure your membranes maintain performance.
Lithium Extraction and Refining Related Resources
Recovering lithium in evaporation ponds can take a year or more and leaves behind lots of salt waste, but there are new technologies and processes that offer exciting options for lithium extraction.
Standard Lithium has commissioned Saltworks Technologies to design and build their novel, selective crystallization pilot plant. The plant is intended to make battery-grade lithium carbonate in a continuous process using lithium brine extraction.
Standard Lithium’s novel selective crystallization process is producing battery grade lithium carbonate in a pilot plant at Saltworks Technologies. The process includes Saltworks’ robotized BrineRefine water plant and our innovative process engineering.